Thursday is a very special day in tennis as one of the greatest legends in the history of the sport, Chris Evert, an 18-time Grand Slam champion and the WTA’s first No.1, celebrates her birthday.
Evert was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on December 21st, 1954, and it didn’t take her long to hit her stride - at age 16 she reached the semifinals of the first Grand Slam she ever played, the US Open in 1971, and she would win her first Grand Slam title at age 19 at the French Open in 1974.
That was just the beginning, as Evert went on to win seven French Opens (1974, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985 and 1986), six US Opens (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1982), three Wimbledons (1974, 1976 and 1981) and two Australian Opens (1982 and 1984) for a career total of 18 majors.
Here are highlights from when she beat her greatest rival to win her 18th major in Paris in 1986:
But her Grand Slam achievements didn’t end with those 18 titles. She was so consistent for so long at the majors, reaching the semifinals or better at the first 34 majors she played (1971 US Open to the 1983 French Open) and winning at least one major a year for 13 straight years (from 1974 to 1986).
She also put together the longest winning streak ever on a single surface with her 125 wins in a row on clay (from August 1973 to May 1979) and, when the WTA officially began its computer rankings in 1975, Evert was the very first World No.1 - she would go on to spend 260 career weeks at No.1.
Since retiring from professional tennis in 1989, Evert has been keeping busy with her family, charity and tennis academy (the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton), and she was also inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995. She’s currently commentating for ESPN’s tennis coverage.
But for now, let’s celebrate her birthday with one of the most memorable moments of her career - her last ever win at a major in the fourth round of the 1989 US Open over soon-to-be-No.1 Monica Seles: