In 2018, the WTA named its World No.1 Trophy for Chris Evert – a fitting tribute to the player who sat atop the computer rankings when they were introduced on Nov. 3, 1975. Evert went on to hold the top spot for a total of 260 weeks. Since then, another 26 women have ascended to No.1 and 13 of them share the distinction of also being a year-end No.1, a feat Evert achieved five times.
While the official Chris Evert WTA World No.1 Trophy was designed to be presented to each new No.1 in perpetuity, the WTA also always intended to produce a replica for all former No.1s, to honor their achievements.
In a series of wide-ranging interviews, Evert, an 18-time Grand Slam champion, went One on One with 10 former year-end No.1 players.
Where did these women find the passion and drive to devote their lives to tennis? Who inspired and supported them? How did they overcome challenges along the way? What did it mean to them to reach the summit and what are their hopes for the future?
“From the outside, all these champions are different, but they all have the same qualities inside,” Evert said. “There are a lot of players out there that have the hard work ethic, focus, discipline and desire. But the great champions are especially driven. They are steely, they are resolute, they are hungry. They will do whatever it takes, sacrifice-wise … They are prepared to go the extra mile.”
Evert One on One
Episode 1: Ashleigh Barty
On her place in the game: "I feel very privileged and very humble to be in the conversation with such legends of our game. Because when I look at year-end number ones, I look at strong women, I look at empowering women, and I also look at women who have been extremely driven, worked hard and, maybe it's an Aussie term, but almost taken it by the scruff of the neck a little bit and just worked for it." Watch
Episode 2: Simona Halep
On winning 2019 Wimbledon: "When I arrived to French Open, I felt again, that I'm back on track and I have to defend the title. The pressure came back and losing that quarterfinal match was really tough for me. I was very upset on myself because I played wrong. She played very well, but I played wrong, wrong tactics. I said, "Okay, this doesn't have to happen again. I have to focus on what I have to do on court and to start again. Here I go in Eastbourne, I played some matches on grass and I felt okay. I felt confident. I lost to Kerber, which most of the time is normal and then I started to see different Wimbledon. I said, 'Okay, now I'm not just coming to visit Wimbledon, I have to take match by match.'" Watch
Episode 3: Angelique Kerber
On being a late bloomer: I think also I won my first grand slam when I was 28 years old. So I think I had a lot of up and downs during my whole career. And I came also like I played all the junior tournaments and I start from the ITF, going to the WTA tournaments, playing internationals and everything. So I get through all the things, so all the up and all the downs. Also at the beginning of my career, I had a shoulder injury in which also was not so fun when you start being a pro and then your shoulder's not really working good. So, yeah, I go through all the things. And I learned a lot over the years. And I think 2016 was the year where I could put all the things together and play my best tennis. So I think I'm for sure one of the late starts players on tour. Watch
Episode 4: Victoria Azarenka
On keeping perspective: When you're a young kid, coming from a background that I come with, where you don't have money, you don't have luxury and you suddenly get it, you can go crazy. But I had good core values of that work ethic and seeing from my parents that things don't come easy. So I had that respect of the things that I have made, but it's so easy to lose yourself. And I'm sure I have, I'm sure I have on the moment lost myself thinking, "Look at me, look what I've done." But I feel that I always had around people who would ground me, who would humble me, and it's super important. Watch
Episode 5: Caroline Wozniacki
On reaching No.1 for the first time: For a very long time, getting to No.1 in the world at the age of 20, and, really, that's a childhood dream come true. I think it was really exciting and also a little bit depressing at the same time. … I remember winning my quarterfinals against Petra Kvitova and after winning that match in Beijing, I knew that I was going to be No.1 starting Monday. But they had this big presentation for me, and everything was great. Flowers on court, champagne, my dad was there. It was really wonderful. But the next morning, I woke up and my dad calls me, he goes, "Yeah, so meet you downstairs in a few minutes, and let's get ready for practice because you have a match tonight." I go, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure, great," and I'm thinking here number one in the world, my dream as a little girl was being No.1 in the world.
When you reach that, you don't really have to worry about footwork or anything else. That's, as a girl, that you don't really think about anything. So I get on the practice court, and my dad goes, "Move your feet, faster racket speed, get up to the ball, move around." I'm like, "Hold on, so nothing really changed? I'm No.1 in the world, but nothing really changed? It's still the same thing?" And I think that's when it hit me that it's all about the journey. It's about getting there. It's about those hours you've put in for so many years. Those experience, the ups and the downs, that's what matters. And, of course, reaching your ultimate dream is absolutely incredible, but you really have to enjoy the journey. Watch
Episode 6: Justine Henin
On thriving despite her 5-foot-5 frame: That became a mental fight, very early. When I had to live in tennis, I was telling you my first tournament. I was playing that girl, she was much taller than me, and everyone was laughing. And I was thinking, well, I probably have other qualities, and I started to think like that and to find always another way. I knew, after that when I became professional, I knew I had my talent, I had my technique. Carlos was ... I mean technically, you can compensate a lot if you have the right technique in terms of timing. So I've been working a lot on that part, even when I was number one, and I think it helped me. Watch
Episode 7: Lindsay Davenport
Episode 8: Martina Hingis
On her intangibles: Well, the thing is, sometimes playing tennis, even when I'm trying to teach my kids with my mom, it's like, you've got to be nasty. Don't be just a good girl. I think I was trying to see, if I had one shot, what would come back? What's their preference? Where would they play? If I play to the forehand, is 80% of the shot going back cross court or down the line? And I think they were like, "If I had to do this, what would come back?"
I'm sure you were thinking ahead when you hit a shot. And with Lindsay, when I played, or Jennifer Capriati, it was already sometimes we practiced together and I knew like, "Okay, if I hit this shot, it's oh my god,'" maybe I lost the shot only two strokes later, then I know I'm in trouble. And I think I have only respect to a few players like that, who know the game as well as maybe Lindsay, or Jennifer or Monica, who were at the top and who read the game so well. And the Williams sisters as well. I mean, at the end of the day, it's not only power, because we knew certain shots, if you were doing this or that, what would come back. Watch
Episode 9: Monica Seles
On coming to the United States: When I got to the States, I only spoke a few words of English. So there were so many changes happening at 13, and I look back and I am just marveling at how I was able to get through it. In the beginning, I came out by myself and then my brother came. But he's eight years older than I am, and he was top two or three in Europe, but that's a big difference, so it could get awkward. That was probably the toughest time for me. But Nick [Bolletieri] and the academy took me under their wings and wanted to protect me from the outside. I would just play tennis, go back to my dorm and really not socialize. It wasn't that I wasn't friendly; it was kind of feeling my way into a new culture and not feeling comfortable in my language. Watch
Episodes will be posted weekly.