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“If I were to pick a first love, he would definitely be my pick,” Evert says of Connors, even 25 years later, “because a little bit of that influence stays with you throughout your life.” International Tennis writer Peter Bodo says of the pairing, “It was a match made in Heaven, not on Earth, which is probably why it didn’t last.” Meanwhile, Evert had turned pro in December of 1972 on the occasion of her 18th birthday, and at that time signed a contract with Wilson tennis racquets on her parent’s front porch.Neither Chris’ nor Wilson’s loyalty to each other ever swayed throughout her entire professional playing career, until the very last ball was struck at the end of the 1989 Federation Cup finals victory over Conchita Martinez.Chris once distilled the ‘killer instinct’ to its basic roots, defining it simply as “feeling that, at that moment, there is nothing in the world more important than winning the next point.” Having a father be the local teaching pro, with constant access to nearby tennis courts and sibling players to hit and compete with, was the first stamp of destiny in the Chris Evert story.

“She had to focus on playing the ball instead of her sister,” says sister Claire Evert.If she could focus only on the ball, then her sister could become just another player, and then she could block out any other distractions to focus on winning every single point.“One thing that makes Chris such a great champion,” Billie Jean King said, “is that she doesn’t play games or sets, she plays points.” Her extreme ability to isolate each individual point helped build a very tough killer instinct.“Chris was the only young one on the tour.” It was certainly her age, but more so her resolve (and all the upsets she caused!) that catapulted young Evert into national public awareness.