“You’ve Got to Be a B**** Out There” – Ajla Tomljanovic Reveals the Influence of Chris Evert on Her Early Tennis Days

Published 08/12/2021, 3:15 PM EDT
Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – July 3, 2021 Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in action during her third round match against Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko REUTERS/Paul Childs


Ajla Tomljanovic is enjoying a renaissance in 2021. Although she endured a disappointing 2020 where she fell to #68 in the world rankings, she started the season by making the second round in the Australian Open.

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The 28-year-old made her biggest impact in the Wimbledon Championships, where she reached the quarterfinals. Ahead of the upcoming US Open, the Australian revealed the influence of tennis legend Chris Evert in her early days.

Ajla Tomljanovic admits Chris Evert’s influence in her early years was huge

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Born in Zagreb, she took up tennis at the age of six. To continue training, she moved to Boca Raton in Florida aged 13. It’s here where she would meet Evert, the 18-time Grand Slam Champion.

Recently, Tomljanovic revealed how Evert noticing her despite her young age of 13 helped her massively. She said, “It’s been really big, especially in the early ages because I was a baby. She saw me when I was 13, and it’s not easy coming into the tennis world when you don’t know anything and you get intimidated.”

She later used colorful words to reveal how Evert influenced her attitude towards the game. “She always would tell me, in a nice way, that you’ve got to be a b**** out there. And the thing is, Chrissie is nowhere close to a b**** but I always knew what she meant.

“There were so many moments in my career where she was around, what people don’t see, and she would take time out of her life to really help me.”

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Tomljanovic: We developed more of a friendship

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Over the years, the Australian revealed how their friendship developed. While she admitted she respected Evert’s accomplishments, she sees her as her friend more often in today’s time.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Tennis – Women’s Singles – Round 1 – Ariake Tennis Park – Tokyo, Japan – July 25, 2021. Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia reacts during her first round match against Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan REUTERS/Mike Segar

She said, “We actually developed more of a friendship now than anything else which helps even more. Of course, I respect her as the 18-time Grand Slam Champion. But I see her just as Chrissie. You know, the person that comes to dinner and we have glasses of wine.”

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With the US Open starting August 30, Tomljanovic will look to build on her excellent run in Wimbledon earlier this year. Can the Australian go beyond the second round for the first time in Flushing Meadows?

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Sanket Nair

606 articles

Sanket Nair is an F1 Author at EssentiallySports. A Sports Management student, he is a huge fan of Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo and hopes to see Red Bull break Mercedes' dominance and win the World Championship soon. Sanket has been hooked to the sport ever since he watched the battle for the 2010 World Championship go down to the wire at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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