‘Chris Evert the Ice Princess Had Thawed’ – Ex-Husband Confesses to Costing the 1978 Wimbledon Final to Martina Navratilova

Published 02/09/2024, 6:13 AM EST

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Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova have been inducted into the Hall of Fame owing to their remarkable legacies on the women’s tour. The American tennis legends, who were also fierce rivals, locked horns with each other on 80 occasions, including their epic 1978 Wimbledon championship encounter. As she failed to prevail in the grass-court major event,  do you know what could have kept Evert from winning the prestigious Grand Slam title?

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During that period, the former tennis ace was involved in a romantic relationship with John Lloyd before they parted ways in 1987. While reminiscing about his trip to London alongside his ex-wife, the British tennis veteran opened up about how their relationship ‘led to Evert taking her eye off the Grand Slam prize.’

John Lloyd on his former wife Chris Evert’s defeat at the 1978 Wimbledon Championship

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In the book ‘Dear John: The John Lloyd Autobiography,’ the former British number one took a trip down memory lane as he disclosed the details of his private stay with Chris Evert in a London restaurant called Newtons. He said, “We talked things through and decided to go completely under the radar this time, so I booked a London restaurant called Newtons, assuring her it was private.”

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Though they tried to go completely under the radar, Lloyd and Evert were on the verge of getting caught by Bjorn Borg’s coach and mentor, Lennart Bergelin. However, Lennart was tucked away in another part of the restaurant before the ex-couple decided to take late-night strolls in Hyde Park, where he ‘discovered’ that the American WTA star was still contending for a Grand Slam title. Lloyd said, “After that, the safest option was to take late-night strolls in Hyde Park near Chrissie’s hotel under the cover of darkness. I would later discover that Chrissie going for a walk at 11 at night while she was still contending for a Grand Slam was again so out of character.”

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While talking about her 1978 Wimbledon championship game, the British tennis veteran discussed how Evert ‘strangely’ fell away in a match after winning the first set 6-2 and was also on a break up in the second. Lloyd stated, “As I watched with my old friend Martin ‘Arnie’ Hill I said: ‘So much for my date with Chris tonight. There’s no way.’  After her disappointing defeat in the title match, the Brit thought that the WTA superstar wouldn’t be ‘going out on a date’ before she replied: ‘No, no – she told me to tell you she’ll be down in about 20 minutes.’ Date on, even after surrendering the Wimbledon title. In later years, there was no chance that would ever happen. Chrissie wouldn’t speak to anyone for a week after a loss like that, least of all me.”

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He added, “But in 1978 at Wimbledon, Chris Evert the Ice Princess had thawed. Martina would never accept or believe this – and it sounds egotistical – but I truly think Chrissie’s mind was not totally on that Wimbledon final. Our relationship, new as it was, had led to her taking her eye off the prize. This isn’t ego talking.”

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Written by:

Anurag Gusain

1,406Articles

One take at a time

Like millions of fans around the world, my foray into the world of tennis began after witnessing the incredible domination of the ?King of Clay? over the past decade. It was my passion for tennis that initially drew me to the dynamic field of sports journalism. My professional journey in sports journalism with EssentiallySports has seen me cover over 1000 articles, focusing on almost every ATP and WTA tournament, including Grand Slams.
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