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After beating ovarian cancer, Chris Evert reflects on what drives her now
In a revealing interview, the former world No. 1 opened up about her cancer fight, the “price” she paid for her early success, and more.
Published Aug 22, 2022
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About five years ago, Chris Evert was running through an airport with her sister Jeanne when she realized something was wrong. Her athletic sister, who was a former WTA pro herself, was having trouble keeping up and struggling for breath.
When Jeanne went to see a doctor, her stage 4 ovarian cancer diagnosis was devastating—and would change both sisters’ lives forever.
In a revealing conversation with CBS Sunday Morning, the former world No. 1 Evert opened up about her cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy, the price she paid for her early success, and more.
“Jeanne saved my life,” said Evert, speaking from her South Florida home to correspondent Tracy Smith.
Evert would tragically lose her sister in February 2020 after a two-year battle with late-stage ovarian cancer, an experience that would lead her to check in with her own doctors and get tested. When they learned that she carried the BRCA1 genetic mutation—meaning she was at an increased risk developing breast and ovarian cancers—Evert’s doctors recommended a preventative hysterectomy.
But it was only after the procedure that they learned Evert already had ovarian cancer, and it was rapidly spreading—had she waited even three months to see doctors, Evert recalled, it would have likely progressed to stage 4.
“I saw Jeanne go through it. I saw the needles and the pain and the agony that she had to [endure],” she said. “The chemos, and endless being in the hospital... She was 80 lbs. when she passed away. It was a horrible, horrible experience for her, and to see her go through that.
"So, it was like, 'Jeanne, please help me with this.'”
Thanks in part to the relatively early detection, Evert underwent surgery and chemotherapy. She publicly announced her diagnosis in January, and was declared cancer-free in May.
With her harrowing medical journey behind her, the 16-time Grand Slam winner is eager to continue pursuing her passions. The 67-year-old was captured by CBS cameras giving free tennis lessons on public courts in her role as USTA Foundation chairperson at an NJTL center in Miami.
"It's fulfilling and taking care of the whole child, not just the athletic part of the child, which I love,” she said.
“I can relate to these kids, because I was one of these kids growing up.”
Evert is also set to launch a new jewelry collection that features a modern take on the “tennis bracelet”, which earned its name after the iconic player paused her 1978 US Open match to look for the jewelry when it flew off her wrist. The line is made in collaboration with jewelry designer Monica Rich Kosann.