Tennis Great Chris Evert Is All About Living In The Moment

She tells us how time played a part in her amazing career.

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It’s not every day that we get to talk to an International Tennis Hall of Famer, what more one who has a whopping 18 Grand Slam singles titles under her belt. 

A former World No. 1, Chris Evert has the highest winning percentage (close to 90%) of any player in the game’s history, and became known as America’s tennis sweetheart back in the ’70s.

But don’t let that description fool you into thinking that she’s anything like one on the courts, because underneath that grace lies a determined sportswoman, whose focus and strength make her a force to be reckoned with.

Chris is also a Rolex Testimonee, an ambassadorship that distinguishes her as someone who has reached the pinnacle of her career. Rolex is a leading supporter of tennis, and has, for over 40 years, established a presence at the most prestigious tournaments and championed performance in its arena. 

As official ambassador of the recent Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Finals 2017, Chris Evert was in town in October to support the sporting event, and took a little time off her official duties to chat with us about life, work and her impressive sports career.

On being a Rolex Testimonee…

I wore the brand before I became an ambassador. To be an ambassador for Rolex is a great honour — the brand is all about class, being timeless and it goes beyond that…Rolex has a lot of integrity. And the other Rolex ambassadors…they set a good example, they are role models. The brand doesn’t sign on people who are flashes in the pan, so to speak — you know, those who are great for a year, and that’s it. 

Rolex seeks longevity in their ambassadors; it’s just like [the performance of] their watches…the longevity, the consistency and the endurance.

On her tastes in watches…

I like big watches. I’m not the dainty type. I mean, I started out in my 20s with dainty, but now I like them big and sporty, and Rolex’s Everose gold has caught my eye lately. 

On the significance of time to her as an athlete…

Oh, that’s an interesting one, I’ve never been asked that before. I think that to be in sports, you have to be in the moment — and you can’t look ahead, and you can’t look back. And all those individual moments, they add up to something big.

On tennis…

I started playing tennis when I was 5, professionally, at 13, actually. Me and tennis are meant to be. My father was a tennis teacher/pro and he taught us the game…it’s like destiny, there was no other sport.

 

On challenges she faced as a female athlete…

I think that in the beginning [of my career] in the early ’70s, there weren’t a lot of female athletes, and for the few who existed, the image wasn’t that positive in the sense that it was one of being really tough, and it definitely wasn’t one of femininity.

That’s why, when I was playing back then, I always wore jewellery, wore a little makeup, you know, I tried to look attractive. Because it was a man’s world, and I didn’t want to be a man, I wanted to be a woman, you know, so I think I went the other way to try and be more feminine. 

When I started playing, being powerful and strong and muscular wasn’t what women aspired to. Of course, things have changed so much and these days, there are little girls who want to grow up and be strong.

On men versus women in sports…

I think the world of sports today is actually more equalised than in any other workplace, in terms of both recognition and remuneration…just look at the Grand Slam.

Achievements she’s most proud of…

Every time I played the Federation Cup and I represented my country. Whenever I represented America, I loved that. Every time I beat Martina (Navratilova), I loved that. What meant the most to me were my two last French Open titles, in 1985 and 1986 — because I beat her in the finals, and I was 30 and 31 years old, and I was already getting towards the end of my career. 

On what else occupies her time now…

I have a tennis academy [that I’ve run] for 20 years in Florida with my brother. I’m really hands-on with work there…I go there every day when I’m back home and that’s a big part of my life — mentoring and training kids, and helping them to achieve their goals. So I have my charity, my ESPN work (she is currently an ESPN analyst), my academy and my three children — even though they are 21, 23 and 26, they still need their mum… and that’s my most important job, being a mother.

On the most promising young female tennis players and words of advice for them…

[Jeļena] Ostapenko, who won the French Open, [Daria] Kasatkina, Cici Bellis, who’s young and American and a very good player — I would say those three, as far as those under 20 years old, have a good future ahead of them. I would tell them to keep working on their games, keep developing their techniques, you know, just put in time, work hard and really, when you’re playing a match, focus. And that’s what you need to do to win.

Photos: Rolex

For more on Watches & Jewellery, head here. Or check out How Tennis Legend Chris Evert Changed The Game and 6 Reasons Why You Should Own A Rolex.



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