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Canadians Honor Chrissie

Three times champion at the event, Tour legend Chris Evert was inducted into the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame on Monday night.

Published August 19, 2010 12:00

Canadians Honor Chrissie
Chris Evert

MONTRÉAL, Canada - As well as 18 Grand Slam singles titles, Tour legend Chris Evert's total haul of 154 trophies includes three wins at what was then known as the Canadian Open - in 1974, 1984 and 1985. She was also runner-up 'north of the border' on two occasions, to Martina Navratilova and Tracy Austin. Earlier this week the 55-year-old American's on-court achievements and off-court contributions were recognized with induction to the Rogers Cup Hall of Fame, and to mark the occasion the former No.1 shared her thoughts at a press conference organized by the tournament. This is what she had to say:

On whether she ever contemplated a comeback...
"You mean, now?! (laughing) Not now! I think I'm past that now. But seriously, no, because I was a little older when I retired, and I had to get the kids in. I retired at 34, and then at 36 I had my first child and then two years later I had my second child and then two years later, I had my third child. I had a full 18-year career as a professional and, you know, physically, I felt great. After I retired I played some exhibitions against Martina, and I felt like sometimes I played better than ever. But you can't just play four or five tournaments a year - you have to commit to the whole Tour - and mentally I was sort of burned out."

On being inducted into the Rogers Cup's Hall of Fame…
"Anytime you are inducted into the hall of fame of a tournament is an honor. It's just nice to be remembered. I would like to see the ex players more involved in tennis in whichever way, whether it's coaching, or making appearances at the tournaments, helping out sponsors, or whatever."

On what the Canadian event means to her…
"What's special about this tournament is that my dad won the Canadian Open, so it has always been kind of a family affair. He had great experiences here, too. Canada has always had some of the best and most knowledgeable crowds, the best stadiums - whether it's been here in Montreal or Toronto, they are beautiful - and the best hospitality. It's a very popular tournament for the players."

On the state of women's tennis…
"Everybody goes, 'Oh, look at the state of women's tennis in America,' But really, you can safely say the Williams sisters have been the two dominant players in the last 10 years. Yes, there have been players that have won a Grand Slam here and there, but kudos to the United States for having Venus and Serena. When I played, we didn't have players from Croatia, we didn't have really good Chinese players. It's just unbelievable where these players are popping up from, and that sort of dilutes the Americans... it makes them look not as successful. It's just that the rest of the world's caught up."

On the search for the next generation of American stars…
"Because the USTA trains at our facility, the Evert Academy, I can see what is going on with the American girls and there is a real gap in the 16 to 18 range. But I think what the USTA is doing is really working hard with the 12- to 15-year-olds. I think they feel that this group, with the proper training, will be the cream of the crop. I think the USTA's programs are getting better and better; they are going out in the field and seeking out talent at a young age and I think that's the way to do it. You will always have some years where you have three or four great American players, then times where you don't hear about an American player. I don't think we need to worry."

On the rise of players from non-traditional tennis nations…
"I think they're hungrier. They're hungrier to get out of their countries to go to America, to travel the world. America is the land of freedom, you know. We have it all. We have a pretty cushy life. Other countries… often they don't have it as good. These players train hard, they're much stricter. There are different elements of incentive."

On the work of the Evert Academy…
"We've got the Chinese, we've got the South Americans and we've got the Koreans. South Florida is a hotspot. They want to come and train. What are you going to say? No? (laughing). I think we treat everybody equally. I would like to see more Americans at our academy - we're fifty-fifty right now but maybe there are more other places for them to go. In saying that, the two top ranked ITF girls in America are training with us at our academy, not with the USTA, but with us, at the Evert Academy. We do have our feet in the water, so to speak, as far as emergence of American players."

On tournament withdrawals…
"The good thing about having a tournament at this time of the year is that everybody wants to play it as a warm-up for the US Open. The bad thing is, if anyone gets a tweak, they're going to panic and pull out because they want to do well at the US Open. But this tournament is a tradition now and the crowds keep it going; they don't seem to be diminishing because one or two top players pulled out. That support is great for sponsors. And good for the sponsors if they can keep coming year, after year, even in this economy. People buy tickets beforehand anyway, and they're going to see great tennis. You've got eight solid names that could still win the tournament. Now it's a mystery."

On playing with and against her sister…
"I remember playing doubles with my sister, Jeanne… I don't know how we did it, we probably got into a fight. Unlike the Williams sisters, we didn't get along on the court. I don't know how they play against each other, it's beyond my comprehension. I felt sick to my stomach the whole time. I did not want to lose and I did not want her to lose."

On whether she is bothered by the prospect of her records being bettered…
"Oh, no, I am not that greedy, but I don't think anybody will! (laughing). No, I hope I don't have that big of an ego that I am that protective. Records are meant to be broken. If they do it, all the power to them. There is more depth in the game today."

Read more about this towering figure in women's tennis!

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