‘Chucks It Into..’- Martina Navratilova Recalls Chris Evert’s Profound Impact on Shaping Her Steely Mentality in the Face of Opinionated Fans

Published 12/04/2023, 9:13 AM EST

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Even though skill is a huge factor in gaining popularity, it’s not the sole factor. In a recent turn of events, Former tennis champ, Martina Navratilova shed light on a grave issue she used to struggle with, in her prime. Navratilova joined Kara Swisher in the latest episode of her podcast to talk about many things. What became the highlight of this podcast was her journey of trying to please fans and also the mention of Chris Evert.

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Martina Navratilova has always been a formidable contender in tennis. Even though she lacks the huge fan following, she is still considered to be one of the greatest to ever set foot in the country. However, there was a dilemma she used to think about back in her days. 

Martina Navratilova about the fan mail dilemma

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In the throes of their intense rivalry, Navratilova found herself grappling with a persistent challenge. It seems like winning over the hearts of tennis fans who were great fans of Chris Evert was not easy in any way. Despite Navratilova’s prowess on the court, the audience’s affections tilted toward Evert. Especially after Navratilova revealed her sexual orientation in 1981. Navratilova’s quest to bridge the fan gap led her to seek advice from Evert, a seasoned darling of the tennis world. 

Inquiring about the handling of fan mail, Navratilova received a response that reshaped her approach to public approval. According to Navratilova, Evert casually admitted to discarding fan letters without a second thought. In her words: “I literally asked Chris, ‘what do you do with your fan mail?’ Because no matter what I did, the fans were cheering for her. You know, Chris, the girl next door versus the communist capitalist muscle lesbian. Yeah. So I really didn’t have a chance, but I asked Chris what you do with your fandom, she just chucks it into the trash.” 

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Evert’s nonchalant approach to fan mail left Navratilova feeling liberated. She further stated her realization: “Great! I’m answering all these letters, sending people photos and posters and everything. I can’t win ’em over no matter what.” Evert seemed to have really opened Navratilova’s eyes. 

In the face of this revelation, Navratilova underwent a profound shift in mindset. It was a pivotal moment that marked her leave from the relentless pursuit of approval. In discarding the burden of universal likability, Navratilova found the key to adopting a steely mindset. This served her well both on and off the court. But she wasn’t the first to face this kind of criticism from the fans.

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Billie Jean King’s parallel journey

Navratilova’s fan mail dilemma finds similarities in the experiences of another tennis legend, Billie Jean King. Much like Navratilova, King faced the uphill battle of winning over fans after openly embracing her sexual orientation. King’s revelation was met with a barrage of criticism. This mirrored Navratilova’s own struggles post-1981.

In navigating the complexities of public perception, both tennis icons grappled with the aftermath of coming out. While Navratilova sought approval amidst a fierce rivalry with Chris Evert, King confronted a wave of hostility. 

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The parallel journeys of these tennis trailblazers shed light on the shared challenges they faced in breaking down societal barriers. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments.

WATCH THIS STORY: Donald Trump’s extraordinary support toward LIV Golf draws huge criticism from Martina Navratilova

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Written by:

Charrvi Singh

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One take at a time

Ever since Naomi Osaka?s infamous withdrawal from the tennis circuit in the 2021 French Open, I have been enamored by tennis stars and their psyche. With a background in psychology, I am interested in delving into the minds of the sport's biggest stars while keeping my readers informed about the latest developments in the tennis world. At EssentiallySports, I focus on stories that dive beyond the sport and focus on the personal lives of the biggest tennis stars.
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Edited by:

Shudh.mukherjee

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