INDIAN WELLS, Calif.—It was Tuesday afternoon at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Tucked into the venue’s southeast corner, on Practice Court 20, a tennis icon was contemplating a topic players don’t have time for, but one that legends relish. The subject was longevity.
Over the course of a career that lasted from 1971-89, Chris Evert demonstrated the kind of sustained success that would make a Broadway impresario envious. Just one major Evert data point: for 13 straight years, she won at least one Grand Slam singles title, a record achievement that still stands.
So there was Evert on Court 20, helping a group of players on-site for a clinic run by Osteo Bi-Flex, a bone and joint health brand.
“Having started in the sport with my father, my love of the game is in my blood and it's something that I truly enjoy doing on a daily basis," said Evert.
"Even though I am getting older, I never want to stop playing the game that I love, and I have no plans of slowing down. I'm excited to partner with Osteo Bi-Flex because they understand that we were made to move, and support joint comfort so you can continue living your life to the fullest and doing what you love."
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Given that Evert was so dedicated a warrior that she was known to get off the plane from Wimbledon and immediately begin another round of practice sessions, it was surprising to hear what she cited as the keys to her long reign at the top.
“Rest and recuperation were every bit as important to me as training,” she said.
In those days, she notes, “We didn’t have as many people around us. These days, players have a team who can help with things like getting massages and other ways to take care of their bodies.”
Evert also noted that off-court training has also changed. Her preeminent rival, Martina Navratilova, had upped the ante in 1981 when she’d commended a rigorous off-court regimen that included time in the gym, playing other sports, as well as crafting a new diet.
“We started to life weights too,” said Evert, “but it was more just to get stronger. Today there’s more training specifically for tennis.”
As Evert watches contemporary tennis, she’s encouraged by both the physical prowess of a great many players—and even signs of diversified styles.
“I think we’re seeing some more people coming to the net,” she said. Asked which shots she’d like to see more, Evert cited the slice backhand and a tool she had thorough mastery of, the drop shot.
“Today’s players are such good athletes,” she said. “We were mostly tennis players.” But at the same time, reiterated the need not to over-train.
With that, it was time to leave Practice Court 20.
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