‘Happy Marriage and Have Some Nice Kids’ – American Icon Chris Evert Displayed Conventional Ideology Amid Glaring Opposition Back in the 70s

Published 04/02/2023, 8:13 AM EDT

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Tennis fans often view their favorite on-court icons as larger-than-life figures with awesome skills that lead to accomplishments defining their public image. However, behind every athlete is a complex person with a unique perspective on the world. Such is the case with WTA legend Chris Evert. Evert is now known for her bold personality, someone who voices her opinion on problematic stereotypes, political controversies, and in brief- whatever she feels is right. Her followers relate a lot to the 18-time Grand Slam champion’s statements as she keeps interacting with them on social media. However, Evert’s opinions weren’t always so politically correct and popular.

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Evert’s beliefs during the initial days of her career, including her opinions on gender roles and the pay gap, were radically opposite of Billie Jean King’s philosophy and the pioneering spirit of the Virginia Slims tour. Furthermore, while Evert was known for her feminine appearance, she once openly admitted to overcompensating in that aspect in order to avoid being seen as a “freak” in the male-dominated world of sports.

Chris Evert might not always have been the feminist icon we know today

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In the book “The Rivals” by Johnette Howard, Evert’s initial opinions are detailed. These are a far cry from the beliefs she advocates today. The traditional opinions that she voiced in those days were not just stereotypes, but also deep-seated insecurities she was trying to battle. “Man is still the breadwinner no matter what the women’s libbers say… My goal is still to win Forest Hills or Wimbledon, but my greatest goals in life are to have a happy marriage and have some nice kids…I don’t think the [women’s] equal pay protest is a good idea”, said Evert.

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Looking at her life now, it is evident how far she has come since. Mother to three lovely young boys, Evert was married thrice. However, in the present, she is happily single and retired, living her life to the fullest.

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Evert’s feminity was a popular aspect of her image as a WTA player. Back in the day, her beautiful feminine appearance on the court was hailed as the epitome of perfection.

This vigilance quickly turned into insecurities for Evert as she confesses, “I carried it to the hilt. I probably overcompensated… I still thought of women athletes as freaks, and I used to hate myself, thinking I must not be a whole woman. The nail polish, the ruffles on my bloomers, the hair ribbons, and not wearing socks- all of that were very important to me. I would not be the stereotyped jock.”

In recent years, Evert has spoken out in support of women’s rights and gender equality. Even as she embraces these new perspectives, her story is a powerful reminder that progress is not always linear and that even our idols are not infallible. Although today Evert is retired from tennis, her legacy lives on in the countless female athletes who have followed in her footsteps.

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WATCH THIS STORY – Chris Evert Looks Back at Her Astounding Rivalry With Martina Navratilova and the Negative Impact of Her 13-Match Losing Streak

From Serena Williams to Naomi Osaka, women in tennis have continued to push the boundaries of what’s supposed to be feminine, and they owe a debt of gratitude to trailblazers like Evert who paved the way for them.

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Written by:

Annesha Banerjee

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Annesha Banerjee is a Tennis writer at EssentiallySports. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in English. Her love for tennis and other sports is influenced by her mother, who was a remarkable athlete back in the day.
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Edited by:

Arijit Saha

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