Two of the WTA’s greatest legends, Martina Navratilova and Chrissie Evert, took to Instagram Live for a wide-ranging chat on Wednesday.
The internationally renowned superstars -- each of whom boasts 18 Grand Slam singles titles, among their numerous accolades -- talked about a myriad of subjects as Evert interviewed Navratilova for over an hour from the Evert Tennis Academy Instagram account.
Among the many topics they broached in their talk, Evert recalled the first meeting between the members of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, where she defeated Navratilova 6-3, 7-6(4) in Akron, Ohio, in 1973.
“That was the first time I had seen you play,” Evert told her long-time rival and friend. “My impression was, I was blown away.”
“I had never seen such a big topspin forehand, I had never seen such a great lefty serve that got me off the court on that backhand side,” Evert continued.
“Of course I remember that match,” Navratilova replied. “My goal was to make sure you remembered my name! It wasn’t to win the match, I didn’t think I could, but I thought I could hold my own. I wasn’t sure, but you never know.”
“After that, I played you 79 times more!” Evert exclaimed. The rivalry finished with Navratilova holding a slim 43-37 edge.
Really excited to chat with my good friend and former rival, @Martina Her life has been an incredible journey of championships, difficult life changing decisions, and empowerment. We’ll talk about it all! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/tSHj9t6UQH— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) April 28, 2020
After listing a litany of Navratilova statistics -- including 167 WTA singles titles, 177 doubles titles, and being the only player to be ranked World No.1 in singles and doubles for over 200 weeks in each discipline -- Evert said that her favorite stat about her peer was when Navratilova won the US Open mixed doubles title just weeks before her 50th birthday in 2006.
“The key to that was picking a great doubles partner,” Navratilova humbly explained, giving credit to ATP doubles superstar Bob Bryan. “And then a month later, I got my card from AARP! They always find you!”
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Evert also said that what “might have been the most profound moment of my tennis career” was when she was part of the United States Fed Cup team to play the event in Prague in 1986 -- which was the first time Navratilova had been in then-Czechoslovakia since she defected to the United States in 1975.
“It was just an honor to be part of that, and be a witness to the emotional journey that you had,” Evert told her friend.
“It was so bittersweet,” said Navratilova, who teared up while discussing seeing her ailing grandmother for the first time in over a decade, and thinking about the residents who were still unable to leave the country. “They couldn’t hold the Fed Cup unless they let us in, unless they let me in.”
“It transcended tennis, it transcended sport,” Navratilova continued. “Politically, it was a big statement.”
Navratilova found joy in the trip as well, as she got to show her teammates where she grew up. “We went to my hometown, I showed you everything. Some of my favorite photos of my life are with you and Pam [Shriver] and my dad and my mom, walking around Revnice.”
The United States would go on to play and defeat Czechoslovakia, led by Hana Mandlikova and Helena Sukova, in the final. “We were touching the trophy, almost all of us in tears, and I can’t tell you how honored I feel to have been a part of that,” said Evert.
“It would not have been the same without you,” Navratilova responded. “We were able to pull for each other and be there together. It probably solidified our friendship, when you look back.”
The camaraderie deepened as they spent numerous years as the top two players in the world. “We used to play backgammon or Boggle before we used to play each other, if there were rain delays,” said Navratilova.
Evert concluded the interview by asking Navaratilova what her advice would be for young players, and Navratilova answered that they should “do what you love, and love what you do.”
“If you do love tennis, great, but do everything else like you love that too,” Navratilova continued. “That champion’s mentality needs to be a part of you, it can’t be occasional.”
“Assuming you love what you’re doing, quality over quantity,” she added. “Just do the best that you can every single day, in everything that you can.”