Indian Wells Notebook: Chrissie In Town
Published March 09, 2014 12:12
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - The Indian Wells Tennis Garden does not lack for space. Especially the 2014 incarnation. The two tented villages that sit in between the Main Stadium and Stadium 2 are a happy grass-covered distance from the area of Adirondacks next to the big screen, and a safe way from the rows of shops and eating spots. Fans can wander, watch, or shop as they wish.
But there was not much room to move at all on Saturday afternoon. Why? Chris Evert was in town.
I didn't realise quite how popular the former World No.1 is in these parts. But many of the visiting fans grew up watching her in her Grand Slam-winning heyday, and were only too happy to join the line stretching from pillar to pillar as Evert took a break from her duties on camera to visit the WTA Fan Booth.
Joining WTA Chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster, Evert is the official Ambassador of the WTA Championships in Singapore, and has pledged to be involved every step of the way promoting the tournament on the Road to Singapore.
"When I think of the truly memorable and iconic moments in the world of sport - the ones where you remember exactly where you were when they happened - more often than not they have taken place at a 'pinnacle' event," Evert says.
"An event that every athlete dreams of participating in from the moment she or he was a young child and that is the singular focus at the start of each year."
But even she must have been impressed by the reaction to her appearance at Indian Wells, fans not only queuing up to get her autograph, but also flocking to her audience with Wayne Bryan, father of Bob and Mike.
Answering questions ranging from her favourite type of music (of the '70s, was the answer) to what age youngsters should start playing tennis (as soon as they can hold a racket), Evert talked at length too about the heights today's players have reached, and how her era might get on today (you can't really compare, she said).
One spectator, one of the many who proclaimed Evert to have been her idol, asked why everyone her age only seemed to want to play doubles, and wondered where she could play more singles. Chris stopped short of offering to play with her, but said she was pleased to see so many people looking upon tennis as such a good form of exercise.
Her message was a simple one. We're all here watching the very best of this sport. But you can enjoy playing tennis however old or young you are, however good or bad you are. It's worth remembering that from time to time.
Alexandra Willis (@alex_willis) is a London-based tennis writer and editor, and manages the digital, social media and publications for Wimbledon, while also contributing to a variety of other outlets.