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August 25, 1997

Chris Evert


Q. What did you think of the new stadium?

CHRIS EVERT: I was very impressed. I was very impressed. You know, you never know, because when you're so used to playing in one stadium, you sort of get very familiar with it. You feel very comfortable with it. But right when I walked out there, it was very open, you know, yet I just think it seems better for everybody. As a player on the court, standing on the court, it seemed like it was great. The atmosphere was wonderful. It still has the closeness of the people around you. I think it's better, I mean, to see the Suites.

Q. Swedes or Suites?

CHRIS EVERT: Suites. To see Stefan Edberg was really great (laughter). I think it's good for everybody involved. Certainly Arthur deserves it to be named after him. I think that's why everybody showed up tonight, was because of him.

Q. Not to put a damper on things, Chris.


Q. Jimmy didn't show.

CHRIS EVERT: I know. What happened to him? Well, what's the deal? Is he playing a match or what?

Q. I don't think there's any senior match. I mean, Mac was here.

CHRIS EVERT: Who is he mad at?

Q. He sued Arthur Ashe.

CHRIS EVERT: Oh, no. I don't know. Was he ever going to come? I don't know. I heard he was playing a match tonight, but that's kind of weird, a Monday night match.

Q. Were you at the champions' dinner?


Q. Was Agassi there?

CHRIS EVERT: Yes. You know, you want it all from me, don't you (laughter)? You know, Chris who, just never rocked the boat; all of a sudden I'm getting in trouble with you guys. I did it at Wimbledon, now I'm getting in trouble now. Where was he? I don't know.

Q. He was at the champions' dinner?


Q. Did they introduce him?

CHRIS EVERT: No, they forgot to mention him.

Q. That upset him a little?

CHRIS EVERT: Does he have a match tomorrow?

Q. Yes. Tomorrow night.

CHRIS EVERT: Tomorrow night?

Q. Yes.

CHRIS EVERT: I was surprised he wasn't there. Should have been there, but he wasn't there. You know, there was a mistake made. He was not mentioned. You know, you just got to take it with a grain of salt and kind of throw these things off sometimes. I love you, Andre.

Q. Is that the same thing you'd say to Mayor Giuliani?

CHRIS EVERT: Yeah. Where was he (laughter)? A lot of people missing.

Q. Probably throwing a dinner party for Andre.

CHRIS EVERT: I mean, what were there, 40 champions out there? You guys are always (indicating), negative. Rod Laver is out there, Pauline Betz is out there. I got a thrill being out there. On USA, TV, I said I felt like a hack amongst all those great champions.

Q. It's not something one would miss, that experience, likely?

CHRIS EVERT: No, no. You know what, though, you'll just have to ask Andre after his match tomorrow, what the reasons were. He'll tell you his reasons. You know, I was just surprised that he wasn't there. I mean, he should have been there. It was 9:15. It wasn't too late. Jimmy, I don't know. People ask me what are my memories of the US Open? I'm thinking, I'm really trying to think hard about my memories of myself, being the demonstrative, controversial player that I was, it's hard (laughter). I do remember Jimmy with the fist, the arm, the pelvic thrust. I think of him. He was the US Open. You know, he was the US Open. He evoked like savage emotions from people up in the stands. He would have gotten the biggest roar tonight if he was here. You know, he's the people's choice. Disappointed he wasn't here.

Q. You got a great cheer when you went out tonight.

CHRIS EVERT: Thank you. I mean, it's not like measuring the cheers, who got the best.

Q. It must have been emotional.

CHRIS EVERT: It was great.

Q. For everybody.

CHRIS EVERT: Especially for the Americans. I mean, I think when Virginia Wade gets a cheer at Wimbledon, that's going to mean a little bit more than when I get a cheer at Wimbledon. I think the Americans, you know, Martina, myself, McEnroe, Connors, for me personally, I grew up with this tournament. That was my coming out, when I was 16 years old, that was my first big splash. Year after year after year, people sort of saw me, watched me grow up in the public eye. If I was ever going to grow up in the public eye, it was at the US Open.

Q. How many times have you been in a group like that? It's not usual for that many.

CHRIS EVERT: I turned to Stan Smith at one point and go, "This is pressure. I retired from this. I like not being around a lot of people, having people not stare at me anymore. I like that." You get used to it. Every day you play a match in front of thousands a people, you're in press, on TV. It's a way of life, no big deal. When you've been away from it for eight or nine years, you go back, it's like, "I can't believe I used to play in front of them." I didn't play in front of 23,000 people.

Q. How many times can you remember that many champions with you at one place at one time?

CHRIS EVERT: Never. You know, Wimbledon this year was less. It was a less amount of people. Wimbledon, the 100th year, we got the champions on centre court.

Q. Except for Jimmy. He skipped that one, too.

CHRIS EVERT: Wasn't John practicing? Jimmy was practicing, is that what he was doing?

Q. Yes.

CHRIS EVERT: He probably had a match.

Q. Tennis.

CHRIS EVERT: But that was the first time in my whatever, 20, 25 years of being around tennis.

Q. Chris, did you have any sense out there that tennis is just a game of great individual champions and that these were the people who built the modern game? Did any thoughts like that cross your mind?

CHRIS EVERT: You know, I always feel bad for the older generation, because, I mean, I remember reading about them. Obviously I'm a tennis player, so I'm going to relate more to Don Budge, Pauline Betz, than somebody up there in the stands. But, I mean, for me, when I'm out there, I appreciate -- I mean, this is tennis. This is why it is where it is right now, from the early years of having all those champions, seeing the different changes in the games. But we all have one common denominator, we were all great tennis champions, physically and mentally. It's sort of like you feel part of a very select, you know, sorority or whatever. I mean, it was really a special feeling. And to hear the tribute to Arthur. He's one of the few players -- I don't think he's the only player that transcends tennis. But the great thing about him was that tennis, it just wasn't about tennis. Win tournaments, grab the money and go buy a $2 million home. It was about education. It was about helping out people that needed help. I can't think of another player, at that level, that has felt that way. I mean, this is -- that was very moving for me, too.

Q. One of the really good things about Arthur in many people's opinion is just what you said, he went out and helped so many people.


Q. Monica just mentioned briefly that he helped her in 1991 when she had some problems. Were there any particularly fond memories, personally, for you with Arthur, any incidents that would be of particular interest that you could share?

CHRIS EVERT: Not to that extent. He never had that hands-on, let me really help Chris, that type of a situation. But he did -- I thought something was up before he died, and before it was out there in the public that he was dying. He sent me a book about women athletes, heroes. I can't remember the name of the book, it was like women athlete heroes. He like signed the whole front of the book, Chris, you've done so much for women's sports. After I read it, it was like, "Something is up." People just don't out of the blue write things like that. From afar I respected him, looked up to him, his values, dignity, but we never were really friends. When he wrote me that book, looking back it was closure. He was just writing to all the people that maybe sparked something inside of him or meant something to him. He was getting all that work done. That was the only thing. But I love that generation of Arthur and Stan Smith and Eric van Don and Bob Lutz. Wasn't that fun, Mike?

Q. It was great.

CHRIS EVERT: A lot of spirit, Davis Cup. No egos, more fun, a little bit more relaxed. So anything else? Kids are doing fine, three boys under five, roller hockey, skiing, snow boarding.

Q. Fishing?


Q. Chris, we show a lot of your old matches at Classic Sports. What do you think when you watch your old matches?

CHRIS EVERT: I saw a clip of myself with a halter dress on. I thought, "Where is the back of my dress? How did I wear those things?" You know, every player cringes when it's a rainy day at a Grand Slam and they're going to be on TV. The current players just sit and pick, pick, pick, criticize, laugh. We used to do the same thing to Margaret Court and Billie. Margaret Court and Billy Jean played a Wimbledon final that year, neither of them could move. It was pathetic watching it. Billie was limping. Margaret couldn't move more than two steps to one side. It was a real tedious match to follow. Three sets. We used to giggle. This year I got it back. I heard during the rain delay they showed one of my matches. The ball was so soft, we guided it, used our little wood racquets. The game now is just step in and nail everything. Take charge, be aggressive. It's great. It's better. Every sport gets better.

Q. A lot of people feel the personalities, having the rivalry of you and Martina.

CHRIS EVERT: Rivalries help. Rivalries help, yeah. It would be great to have a rivalry. In women's tennis, we don't have one. Men's tennis, you don't have one. That definitely could help. The kids are so young, they're not really -- I almost think that the public has to grow up with you a little bit. You have to win some matches, lose some matches, go through adversities, slumps, for you to really come out an interesting person. In the press conferences, I'm hearing -- I was the same way 16, 17, 18. She played well, you know, moved well, got my first serve in. You can't blame them because they're young. My criticism, as I got blasted at Wimbledon by John McEnroe and I did a press interview, my only criticism of women's tennis is I think the young players look great, but where are the veterans? Where are the 28, 30, 32 year olds. That's what's missing from this era that we had in our era, every era. When I was 34, I was playing Steffi or Monica. When Billy Jean was 34, she was playing me. I think that makes for interesting tennis and rivalries there, too. We don't have that at all. Hopefully we'll build up some, Kournikova. Hopefully Steffi will come back. That would be great. She'll come back and be stronger and beat everybody.

Q. What do you remember about 1971, your first Open?

CHRIS EVERT: My mom and I like were -- I was staying a large amount with my aunt and uncle. We went through the wrong gate, they wouldn't let me in. That was my first day. We went in the wrong gate, then we went in this other gate way behind the stadium. We had to walk all the way around. In those days, had no bodyguards, no cellular phones, nothing. You just had your mother and two wood racquets. I remember, you know, Mary Eisel being down three match points. All of a sudden the tennis ball looked like a football and I couldn't miss a ball. Then I remember Frankie Durr crying on the court because the crowd was against her. She was in tears. Leslie Hunt choking against me. I remember those. Then Billy Jean cleaning my clock, just chipping and giving me a lot of junk. Playing on centre court every match. I have great memories. Until after the tournament, I did not know what commotion I was causing. It was a great tournament to look back on, to remember all those things. Then after my match, I would go home and empty the dishwasher. I had to work.

Q. They had dishwashers?

CHRIS EVERT: They had dishwashers, yes (laughter).

Q. At Wimbledon, you were talking to some of us. You said, "Well, I won a bunch of Wimbledons. But then again, I lost so many Finals." At the time it sort of seemed like a throw away comment. Do you ever reflect on some of the losses and kind of wish you had collected a few more Slams?

CHRIS EVERT: More than 18, yeah. At least 26. No, that's a good question. I do. I also think of the ones I had no right winning, like my first Wimbledon, I had no right to win that. Billy Jean had lost to Kerry Reid. Evone had lost to Olga Morozova. Those are two players much better than me on grass, Yvonne and Billy, they would have killed me on grass that year. I got to play Kerry Reid and Olga Morozova. I had their number. I never should have won that year. Wimbledon, I definitely should have won more Wimbledons. There are other Grand Slams that, like I said, maybe I shouldn't have won that I did. I don't lose sleep over it.

Q. The one you should have won?

CHRIS EVERT: I had three or four other chances to win, but that's life.

Q. What do you think about this tournament? Do you think anybody has a chance to beat Martina?

CHRIS EVERT: Hingis, yeah. I think Monica has a chance. I think Davenport has a chance. I think those are the only two players that have a chance. You know, it depends on Martina Hingis. I commentated the French final. I just think she handed it over to her. Did you guys see that match? I think she lost that match more than Iva won it. I think she kept saying all week, "I'd be so happy to get to the semis because of my injury." I think it psyched her out. When she got to the Finals, she wasn't there, she wasn't on the court. I think a lot of it depends on her. Monica is playing a lot better than at Wimbledon. She's going after the ball. Lindsay Davenport, she's like due for a major after winning the Olympics. I think she could do it, too.

Q. Isn't that true of Martina, the losses that she's had have been her losses as opposed to someone beating her?

CHRIS EVERT: Yeah. And she's still that odd stretch. I watched her player Barbara Paulus at the French, when she lost that middle set 6-Love. I don't think you'd see Steffi Graf doing that. She tanked it. It depends on her. If she's sharp and she's playing well, she's still the best player.

Q. I want to ask you one more question about the champions' dinner.

CHRIS EVERT: You're going to nail Agassi tomorrow and Connors, aren't you?

Q. I'm thinking about it. Is someone like Agassi going to be sorry someday? I mean, you were obviously thrilled to be in the company of these people tonight. It's an opportunity that you would not have missed. Is that fair enough to say? Vilas game from Buenos Aires. People came from all over.


Q. Do some of these people, I can't tell you where Connors is. All I know is that Agassi was on the grounds and didn't make it?

CHRIS EVERT: Went to the dinner, yeah.

Q. Are these guys going to have the reverence that you obviously have for this sport, its traditions and its history?

CHRIS EVERT: It's a little easier for someone like me. It's a little easier for the players that have retired. You know, I flew in from Florida. If Harry had forgotten my name, but made a joke of it later, I'm going to go on the court. That's just life. When you're a player, and I remember being a player, and I remember feeling as a player, thinking only about myself, being defensive, all those feelings that you have. I'm not trying to defend Andre. You know, I think that -- I really, honestly think that he was hurt by that. I think that he doesn't have the confidence in himself. I think that's contributed to it. I mean, I think he's feeling a little insecure anyway about his tennis, about the way the press has sort of given him a hard time. I think the press is giving him a hard time. Instead of saying, "Oh, Andre is going through a bit of a slump, but he got married, is happy in his life." How many tennis players are happy in their private life? Not many. You know what I mean? I think you guys are picking on, "When is Andre going to come back? " The guy got married. I know what that takes out of you, believe me (laughter). I've done it a couple times. In answer to your question, I think when you're a player, you're just consumed with yourself. You're a little bit selfish; thinking about what's best for you. You're a little bit defensive. That is the way I was. I'm sure Andre is feeling that way right now. I mean, I don't know what other reason it could be, why he wouldn't come, go down to the court.

Q. It may come as a shock to him, but it wasn't about him tonight.

CHRIS EVERT: I know. Listen, there were times when I felt that I was hot stuff, that I could maybe get away with things, that I felt defensive. It's different when you've retired. It's different when reality sets in, you're retired, they're not coming up to you anymore and telling you how great you are. You've got kids. It's a different ball game for me now; the way I look at things, my perspective. But when I was a player, I would have probably been a little pissed off if that happened.

Q. You would have showed up?

CHRIS EVERT: Yeah. But I'm the player that gave the dirty looks all the time, remember? I would have been annoyed, but I would have showed up.

Q. Bear with us a little bit. The game's most charismatic player, former No. 1, former US, Wimbledon Champion.

CHRIS EVERT: You're going to have to ask him. Maybe the guy threw up. I don't know.

Q. I'm not talking about tonight. If you were in a room with him, what would you say to him about trying to get back into the swing of things?


Q. Yes.

CHRIS EVERT: Not about tonight, about trying to get into the swing of things?

Q. To restore his game and his confidence.

CHRIS EVERT: It's all about commitment, you know. Does he want to make a commitment? Does he want to make a commitment? Is he willing to work hard and pay the price that he needs to do? It's not working. He's not getting by right now, I don't think, with the training that he's doing. But I do know that when you're in a relationship, I think it takes a lot out of you emotionally. You know, he got married. I mean, it's a big deal for him. He's made a commitment that way. I think it's going to take time. Both of them need to find a balance because, you know, look who he's married to, somebody who has a very important job, too. I respect the way that he supports her. Why should the guy always do it? She's got just as important a career, to him, as he does. Maybe for a while, you know, he's putting her first, supporting her. Maybe he's just trying to find his way. He's no spring chicken. You've got to really start to think about commitment now.

End of FastScripts….

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