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On This Day: Chris Evert wins her 100th career singles title
With the courtside temperature hitting approximately 130 degrees, it was classic Chrissie: a tight first set, followed by dominance.
Published Oct 19, 2022
Academy Life: Ajla Tomljanovic at the Evert Tennis Academy
Once upon a time in the 1970s there was a popular TV show called Wonder Woman, based on the adventures of a comic book hero. During those years, the show’s star, Lynda Carter, became friends with Chrissie Evert. Carter had also become a spokesperson for Maybelline, a prominent cosmetics company.
So it was that 1980 marked the debut of the Lynda Carter/Maybelline Classic, a $100,000 WTA event played in Deerfield Beach, Fla. Celebrities such as Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dinah Shore had attached their names to golf tournaments. Comedian Alan King had sponsored a men’s tennis tournament. Carter became the first famed woman to put her name front and center on a tennis event.
Evert by this time was 25 years old and had won a staggering 99 singles tournaments. She’d also just been through the toughest year of her tennis life. In early February, burnt out and discouraged by several losses to Tracy Austin, Evert opted off the tour, skipping competition for nearly three months. She even considered retirement, thoughts she frequently confided to Carter.
This is where my first pro tournament win took place, and my 100th was here, so it’s only fitting. Chris Evert, on Deerfield Beach
Following extensive soul-searching, Evert came back. In June, she won the singles title at Roland Garros. The next month, Evert earned a satisfying win over Martina Navratilova in the semis of Wimbledon. And then she capped off the summer with a title run at the US Open, an effort highlighted by a semifinal victory versus Austin.
Now it was October and Evert had arrived in familiar territory. Deerfield Beach was located less than 20 miles from Holiday Park, the Fort Lauderdale facility where Evert had learned the game from her father, Jimmy.
Enjoying the chance to compete in front of a local crowd, Evert moved through the field comfortably. She opened with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Renee Richards, then handily won three more matches to reach the finals.
Evert’s opponent was yet another precocious teen. Third-seeded Andrea Jaeger was only 15 years old, but that year had advanced to the quarters at Wimbledon and the semis of the US Open. Assertive, savvy and eager to throw herself into battle, Jaeger clearly had all the skills necessary to be a significant force for many years to come. Certainly, Jaeger proved that in the semis, when she upset Navratilova by the rare score of 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.
The weather for the finals was exceptionally hot, even by Florida standards, the courtside temperature hitting approximately 130 degrees. In front of a capacity crowd of 5,100, Evert and Jaeger settled in for what was likely going to be a long, hard battle.
But Evert was the veteran, armed with patience, experience, and the powerful blend of skill and will that had made her as tough a competitor as tennis has ever seen. Wrote Peggy Gossett about the match in the book, World of Tennis 1981, “Patiently, like a predator stalking its prey, Chrissie stayed back on the baseline, waiting until her foe succumbed to the pressure before moving in for the kill behind her disguised drop shots.”
It was a classic Evert plotline: a tight first set, Evert winning it, 6-4. Then, dominance, Evert snapping Jaeger’s resolve to take the second, 6-1.
Said Evert, “This is where my first pro tournament win took place, and my 100th was here, so it’s only fitting.” At which point the crowd rose and paid tribute to Evert’s tremendous accomplishment.
There followed 57 more singles titles, including seven majors.