Top 10 Greatest Tennis Rivalries
This has to be it. The greatest rivalry I've seen in my life up till now.
They had some good matches until 1975. Chris was 3 years younger and still in her teens. After her 19th birthday in late 1974, Chris just took charge and it was all over for Evonne. Evonne would win a few more matches against Evert but there was never any doubt about who the superior player was. Evert killed the debate.
Chris Evert was definitely the superior player and her relentless game was too much for Evonne, who seemed to, from early on, accept that Evert was better. This is going by some post match statements from Evonne.
Evonne won their first meeting and there was excitement about these 2 and who would take over the mantle from King and Court. Evert then murdered Evonne the next 5 matches after which Evonne was perpetually playing catch up. Evert had taken over.
The contrasting styles, similar ages both vying to be number 1 made for an exciting rivalry. It did not quite live up to expectations mainly due to Chris Evert who generally dominated their matches and was clearly the better player.
I have seen them play and I always felt that Margaret feared Chris. And with good reason - all her strengths were neutralized by Chris.
1. The big serve - Chris seemed to read it uncannily.
2. The net game - Chris made her look foolish coming to the net with her passing shots, disguise and the absolutely devastating lobs.
3. Margaret's reach, as a result of which she was supposedly difficult to lob. Well…. Not for Chris!
4. Margaret's fitness level. She was one of the fittest players on the circuit, but Chris made her move so much that it drove Margaret to exhaustion.
On top of this, Chris remorselessly attacked Margaret's backhand which collapsed against the bombardment from Evert.
Evert made Margaret nervous and that only made matters worse for her and did not quite make for a great rivalry.
This is an under-hyped rivalry. Margaret was the number 1 in the early 1970's and dominating women's tennis. Chris, age 15, all of 98 pounds and 5ft 2" tall played the World number 1 in 1970 and beat her in straight sets. A shocker. Chris won their next 2 matches also in straight sets. They played 13 matches in all, with Chris ending with a 9-4 advantage.
Their styles were contrasting - Margaret was a big server with a good net game; powerful and fit. Chris was a baseliner with good return of serves and a 2-handed backhand. It was fascinating watching Chris handle the Margaret serve and the duel between the net rusher and the baseliner.
Styles make rivalries. While Margaret, in my view, should be rated higher than Chris in an all-time list based on achievements, I think when it comes to head to head between the 2 of them, Evert comes out ahead. Evert had Margaret's game all figured out from early on which enabled her dominate their head to head.
Margaret Court was a great player, but Chris Evert was a terrible match up for her. I have seen them play each other. Chris read Margaret like a book and dictated the strategy and tempo of most of their matches.
Billie Jean was the one top player who held her own against Chris when she first burst on the scene in the early 70's. Mainly on grass though. On clay, Chris just devoured her.