Chris Evert: did somebody say icon #1?

We take a look back at the story and style of Chris Evert, an undisputed tennis icon.

Chris Evert Roland-Garros
 - Elodie Iriart

Seven-time Roland-Garros champion, the pure embodiment of Seventies elegance and femininity, a proclaimed "queen of the clay", a genius of the tennis courts: the Evert era was a wonderful one, but what about now?

We take a look back at the story and style of Chris Evert, an undisputed tennis icon.

Chris Evert Roland-Garros©FFT

How Chris Evert became Chris Evert.


Much has been said about her high-profile love affairs, namely with tennis stars Jimmy Connors and John Lloyd, skier Andy Mill and actor Burt Reynolds. Her on-court rivalry with friend Martina Navratilova was thrilling to watch and was wonderful fodder for the press, but what we remember most is her steely mindset, her baseline play, and her legendary two-handed backhand. Chris Evert revolutionised women’s tennis.

Her destiny was all planned out. Having grown up playing on the courts of the Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale – a famous academy that her father, Jimmy Evert, ran for almost 50 years – Chris Evert burst onto the circuit in 1971 at age 16. A year later, she became the youngest player ever to play in the semifinals of the US Open, where she lost to the great Billie Jean King.

“America’s sweetheart” notched up 158 singles titles, including 18 Grand Slams and 4 Masters titles. She holds the record for the most titles won at Roland-Garros (7 victories) and at the US Open (6 victories), a record shared by Serena Williams.

In 1989, Chris Evert retired from tennis holding the record for the most victories at Roland-Garros and another, just as impressive one, for winning at least one Grand Slam per year between 1974 and 1986.

Chris Evert Roland-Garros©FFT

Shining like a diamond bracelet.

The epitome of femininity, elegant but with nerves of steel, Chris Evert was hugely popular with spectators, in particular for her impeccable attitude and her fair play on court. She was the undisputed queen of women’s tennis in the 70-80s, primarily thanks to her talent, but also because of her memorable style, which featured pretty white or striped tennis dresses and ultra-fashionable outfits.

She was crowned sportswoman of the year in 1976 by Sports Illustrated magazine after her victories at Roland-Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, transforming the world number 1 into a celebrity. On the courts, Chris Evert would often wear a beautiful diamond bracelet on her wrist. The “tennis bracelet” became popular when Chris’ own bracelet broke in the middle of an action-packed match, allegedly stopping play.

Whether or not this story is true, the tennis bracelet became a must-have accessory for any sporty look. A chic symbol that acted as a good luck charm for the champion’s multiple titles over several years.

From the tennis courts to Andy Warhol’s studio.

A talented tennis player and “queen of the clay”, Chris Evert certainly left her mark on the history of sport, but also the world of art. Proof of this is Andy Warhol’s “Athlete Series”, which features a silkscreen print of the tennis champion.

Available to order from art collector and sports fan Richard Weisman, this famous series of multicoloured prints includes ten portraits of sports stars from the 1970s, such as Mohamed Ali, Pelé, O.J. Simpson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Chris Evert par Andy Warhol© Andy Warhol-ADAGP/Photo Thomy Keat-FFT

"The sports stars of today are the movie stars of yesterday,” Warhol once said, well aware of the growing popularity of sport and fascinated by the central place that athletes were starting to occupy in American pop culture in the Seventies.

Andy Warhol photographed Chris Evert using a Polaroid Big Shot, before printing the images onto acrylic canvas.