In this week’s episode of One On One with Chris Evert, three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport opened up to fellow former world No. 1 Evert about how insecurities as a junior player shaped her on-court mentality.

“People come into their own at different ages,” said Davenport. “And for me, I was much better at tennis than I thought I was, thought I could be. And things just kept happening in the juniors, but emotionally I was not ready for that. Certainly confidence-wise, nowhere near it.”

Davenport spoke of how she was in awe of her peers—particularly Jennifer Capriati, who immediately excelled on the pro tour at 13 years old.

“It took me until my mid-20s before I really felt comfortable in everything that I was doing and my career. I won a major at 22, and that scared the lights out of me for the next few years. I did well, but I wasn’t comfortable necessarily with everything that went with it until I got older.


“I wish I could’ve played a little bit longer. My body just kinda gave out, but certainly it helped for me to be more confident, to be more mature, to just be more knowledgeable and enjoy it a little bit more than I did in the beginning.”

A pivotal moment came at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, where she made her big breakthrough. Tennis legend Billie Jean King, who was the U.S.A. Fed Cup coach at the time, gave Davenport advice that would ultimately change the life of a then-20-year-old.

“Most people, in dealing with me, didn’t really hold me accountable," she said. "In my mind, I’ve always been a kind of a worst-case scenario thinker. I remember I said to her, ‘Can you believe no matter what I’m going to get a silver medal tomorrow.’

“And she went, ‘Oh you come over here. You sit down right here.’ She sat me down for almost an hour, saying, 'You have to be aware of what’s happening tomorrow. You have to be aware of what this could do,' and really forced me to talk about stuff that would normally make me uncomfortable.”

Davenport would go on to win the gold medal, defeating Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the final. She would win the first of her three majors at the 1998 US Open.

During her long stint on the tour, she collected 55 career singles WTA titles and 38 career doubles trophies.