Magazine article Newsweek

Friends across the Net: TWO GRAND SLAMMERS: In the Late '70S and Early '80S, Women's Tennis Was Martina vs. Chrissie. between Them, They Won 32 Major Tennis Titles. Czech-Born Martina Navratilova and the All-American Gal, Evert, Developed a Rivalry Grounded in Mutual Respect., TENNIS TANTRUMS: By the Time He Won His First U.S. Open in 1979, John McEnroe Was Already Famous for His Fiery Temper

Magazine article Newsweek

Friends across the Net: TWO GRAND SLAMMERS: In the Late '70S and Early '80S, Women's Tennis Was Martina vs. Chrissie. between Them, They Won 32 Major Tennis Titles. Czech-Born Martina Navratilova and the All-American Gal, Evert, Developed a Rivalry Grounded in Mutual Respect., TENNIS TANTRUMS: By the Time He Won His First U.S. Open in 1979, John McEnroe Was Already Famous for His Fiery Temper

Article excerpt

I think my rivalry with Chris was the greatest in sports. You have Ali and Frazier, but how many times did they fight? You have the Dodgers and the Giants, or the Yankees and the Red Sox. But, that's teams. Rivalry is only as good as the people in it. And most of the time, we were No. 1 and 2. We played each other 80 times. I had thought I was going to be Chris's main rival for a long time. But she always talked about her rivalry with Evonne Goolagong, totally dismissing me. I was, like, wait a minute, what about us?

It wasn't until 1982 that Chris started taking me seriously. I'd beaten her a few times by then. My favorite moment against her probably would be the first time I won Wimbledon, because she was very sweet to me. That was in 1978. She gave me a good hug afterwards, and it was obvious that she was happy for me. And that was after she hit me in the head with a tennis ball. She hit a drop shot, I hit a drop shot, and I hit it a bit high, and she nailed me on the back of the head. That sort of woke me up. I had lost the first set, and this was early in the second, so I started playing better after that.

We always were very respectful of the other one's victories, and sadness. After a match, I would come over and console her, sometimes she came over and consoled me. Or she'd leave me a note, or I'd leave her a note. Just, you know, "Sorry," or whatever. "I'm sure you'll get me next time." We'd leave it in each other's bag in the locker room. Once in a while we'd send champagne to each other. It was all very civilized. It's all bulls--t that you have to hate your opponent. You can absolutely respect them and be friends with them and then still absolutely die out there on the court, trying to win. Those two--friendship and competition--are not mutually exclusive. A lot of times the press tries to stir up something, when there's nothing there. …

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