One of the greatest rivalries in the tournament’s history, at least in the opinion of many, was the ongoing feud for dominance between famous female tennis players Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert (Lloyd).
Evert was a great player on the baseline, while Martina had what many consider the finest serve-volley game in the sport’s history. Their personalities even seemed to conflict. Still, both were players of the highest caliber, and those privileged to watch these two tennis titans wage their on-court battles got more than their money’s worth.
The two played against one another eight times beginning in 1973 and running through 1988. The rivalry, if it had a beginning, began at Wimbledon in 1978. She won her first single’s title there, taking that honorific away from Chris Evert.
In the 80s, their rivalry became a focal point of the world of professional tennis. If the two were in a tournament, the hottest tickets were those that would seat you at one of their matches. Their on-court sparring and off-court sniping, instead of driving away fans, seemed to intrigue them.
The fan base for tennis, overall, underwent major growth during the height of the greatest tennis Evert-Navratilova rivalry. In the course of their rivalry, the two-faced off in fourteen Grand Slam finals and Evert lost ten of them.
Navratilova holds a 47-37 lead over Evert for their total count. Martina, best on grass and Evert better on clay, often seemed to be victimized by the playing surfaces of the tournaments.
While Martina did wallop Chris 5-0 in Wimbledon (grass), it is important to remember that Chris managed to hold her own in other arenas using grass or artificial surfaces. In those instances, they tied at five all.
While they were often at odds on the court and were perhaps not the best of friends off of them, the two had mutual respect and admiration for one another.
Their rivalry, and the media attention it received, inspired the aggressive style and dominant play of many of today’s great young women tennis players. So, in a way, we as tennis lovers ended up being the real winners.