‘They’re Not the Enemy’- Chris Evert Invokes Touching ‘Locker Room’ Scenario to Judge How Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s Friendship Evolved Over the Years

Published 01/21/2023, 8:50 AM EST
LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 23: Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal of Team Europe interact during the doubles match between Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe of Team World and Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal of Team Europe during Day One of the Laver Cup at The O2 Arena on September 23, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Laver Cup)

The American tennis greats, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova have provided the tennis community with some of the most remarkable performances in the history of the sport. They started as one of the fiercest rivals on the court, however, later became close friends during their stellar tennis journey. Apart from these WTA legends, another great rivalry on the court and friendship off the playing field in tennis has often interested the fans.

The friendship between two of the greatest players, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have been admired by many.

Talking about the same, Evert recently opened how her friendship with Navratilova is similar to that of Federer and Nadal. Meanwhile, the former American tennis player also detailed a ‘locker room’ scenario to assess how the relationship between the ATP legends has evolved over the past decade.


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Chris Evert talked about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal’s friendship

The 18-time singles Grand Slam champion was recently featured in an interview where she was asked to assess the close friendship between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. In answering that, Chris Evert contrasted their relationship with the one she had with her on-court rival, Martina Navratilova.

The American tennis legend said that Federer was a “big ingredient” in Rafa’s incredible tennis journey. Meanwhile, she also made a comparison by saying that Martina was a ‘real big thing’ in her journey as a tennis player.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – MARCH 27: Chris Evert sighted during the women’s quarter finals match at the Miami Open on March 27, 2019 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. (Photo by Michele Sandberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Evert further said that their individual accomplishments were sometimes overshadowed because of that rivalry. However, she added that it brought a lot of people into the sport, who weren’t that much tennis oriented. The rivalry also brought the non-tennis fans who were just fascinated with the two strong personalities in the game. She later talked about a lot of similarities in their styles of tennis.


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The former American tennis player then said that Rafa and Roger weren’t that close in the initial phase of their tennis journey. It was later on that they got closer just like her friendship with the former Czech–American tennis player.

She added, “After a while you’re the only ones left in the locker room on a Sunday you know you’re in the finals and you’re the only you’re the only two so you kind of at one point you look over and you see that that person’s a human being you know they’re just not a tennis player”. 


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The tennis Hall of Famer also said, “they’re just not your competitor, they’re not the enemy, they’re a human being”.

It is evident to say that Federer and Nadal have evolved over the past decade or so. Federer even decided that it will be Spaniard alongside him during his farewell match. Nadal was further overwhelmed with emotions after playing with his friend at the Laver Cup. The two friends were also spotted together at the inauguration ceremony of the Rafa Nadal Academy. There is further a suite named after the Swiss Maestro at his academy.

What do you think of Evert’s assessment of Rafa and Roger’s friendship? Let us know in the comments section.


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Anurag Gusain

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Anurag Gusain is a Tennis Author at EssentiallySports. He has completed his Bachelor’s degree in English from Delhi College of Arts and Commerce, Delhi University. Being a huge tennis fan, he enjoys watching superstar Rafael Nadal play.

Edited By: Arijit Saha