Chris Evert: Queen of Clay

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
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News | Legends | 20 December 2016
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With 72 victories and just six defeats, nine finals and seven titles between 1974 and 1986, Chris Evert’s success rate in Roland-Garros is second to none in the modern era. It is even more impressive when you consider that the woman from Fort Lauderdale in Florida missed the three French Opens between 1976 and 1978, in her golden years - she won the two editions before and after that break where she prefered to play team championships in the USA. We can consider she would have been able to win those years she missed, and reach the "Decima" 30 years before a certain Rafael Nadal tries to achieve that goal next year.

Chrissie won on every surface throughout her incredible career, but i twas on clay that she wrote the finest chapters of her legend, racking up no fewer than 125 consecutive victories on the red dirt between 1973 and 1979. At the time, no-one was better at building points, or seeing off attackers with inch-perfect passing shots, particularly with her two-handed backhand – a technique of which she was one of the forerunners in the women’s game. Another statistic shows just how at home she was at the Porte d’Auteuil: in 171 sets in total, the American won 28 by the score of 6-0 and another 30 by 6-1!

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Read more: Chris Evert, the fast way on clay
Evert was already being hailed as a phenomenon the first time she came to Paris, in 1973 at the age of 18. She had made her debut on the pro circuit a year earlier, and got through to the final here at the first attempt, even coming within two points of victory. Australia’s Margaret Court had all sorts of difficulty countering Evert’s ultra-consistent brand of tennis, but eventually won out 6-7, 7-6, 6-4. As many predicted at the time, this match turned out to be a passing of the baton, and Evert went on to win the title in her next four appearances before finally losing in the semi-final in 1981 against Czech Hana Mandlikova, the surprise result of the entire year.

1975: the very first Grand Slam final between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova:

Evert - Navratilova - "Our rivalry was absolutely epic!"
 
Its really a shame that World Team Tennis trumped the French for several years in the 70's because Evert seriously would have a couple of more French Open titles to her name if it hadn't. She won the French in 1974/1975, then missed it for 3 years, then won it again in 1979/1980. I don't see anyone really stopping her winning it in those 3 years in the middle.
 

Greatgatsby

Semi-Pro
Yes it is a shame. World Team Tennis is a neat idea but what a travesty of tennis justice that it directly competed with legitimate tennis tournaments. I love BJK but nobody is perfect and that is one glaring splotch. But anyone that played WTT then I assume was chasing money and let the record books judge you fairly and the fact is we will never know IF she would have won. Probably but not definitely. They play the tournaments for a reason. Sue barker, Mima Jausovec and Virginia Ruzici have no apologies to make. They are every bit as deserving those years as any of Evert's 7 wins; particularly 1983(thanks Kathleen Horvath, hope she still sends you a birthday card every year.).
 
I have little doubt Evert would have won the French those 3 years. Her 125 match clay court win streak encompassed all three of the years in question and she won the US Open on clay all 3 of those years. She was untouchable on dirt for a good 7 or 8 years, and even outside that only beatable by a very select few.

She put WTT as the priority, I don't know why, was she forced to play if drafted by a team, or was there just a ton of money on the line? I mean now a days it's more this fun exhibition thing but back then it was a lot more serious. Being an 80's baby I don't know much about it and never really read about it to be honest.
 
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BTURNER

Legend
In the end, it was much more significant that the US Open switched to clay, during 2 of those same years that she was absent. She will be the only woman to win majors to two different clay surfaces ( Har-tru and red). In fact the US OPens of 1975-1977 had better draws than any of those RG titles would have regardless of WTT. If you wanted to prove that Evert could beat the crème de la crème on clay in the 1970's, you are better off looking at those Open draws than those RG draws.
 
The interesting question is, was Evert even greater than Nadal on clay? (and yes, I hate making cross-gender comparisons, but even so...)
 

BTURNER

Legend
This made me smile:)

It's hard to imagine anything in tennis being easier to prove!

This is a tribute - not an argument
The problem in the 70's is that a lot of the top players in the sport(other than Court) hated playing the European clay circuit. Goolagong rarely went after 1973 after having beat Evert in the Italian. King rarely went. Wade rarely went. Navratilova skipped for 7 years after she reached the final in 1975 and took a set of Evert. We both know that Evert had gotten a lot better, tougher on every surface between 1975-1979, but it was convenient that the US Open showed how hopeless it was to draw any serious blood from Chris on clay.
 
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muddlehead

Semi-Pro
**** Being an 80's baby I don't know much about it and never really read about it to be honest.****
(Re: WTT vs French Open in the 70's)
Well, it's a start you're here. Read about the oft discussed present day importance of majors vs the old days in this forum and you can educate your fellow millennials :)
 
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PDJ

G.O.A.T.
The interesting question is, was Evert even greater than Nadal on clay? (and yes, I hate making cross-gender comparisons, but even so...)
I think it's a slippery slope to compare in many ways.... Both are amazing. That said, I do find it irksome when some posters just assume Nadal is the greatest ever on clay :)
 
I think it's a slippery slope to compare in many ways.... Both are amazing. That said, I do find it irksome when some posters just assume Nadal is the greatest ever on clay :)
On the men's tour, he is. And even overall, I would take Nadal every time. Believe me, I am not a huge fan of Nadal though I do like him and respect his achievements. But he richly deserves to be the king of clay. Sure, people are free to argue the point and have their own preferences but I don't think it is off base to assume that Nadal is the greatest on clay. And it isn't just RG, it's Monte Carlo and Rome as well. Just the number of trophies is staggering and up against two of the greatest players of all times in their primes, with just the two losses in a run of 11 years from 2005 to 2015. Anyway, I will stop here. ;) Let this thread be about the queen of clay.
 
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**** Being an 80's baby I don't know much about it and never really read about it to be honest.****
(Re: WTT vs French Open in the 70's)
Well, it's a start you're here. Read about the oft discussed present day importance of majors vs the old days in this forum and you can educate your fellow millennials :)
I've done a lot of reading on tennis of the past, more on the women's side I'll admit, but world team tennis just hasn't been something I've read much about. I always just look at it as this for fun thing that was more about bragging rights...almost like the Wightman Cup...lol
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
On the men's tour, he is. And even overall, I would take Nadal every time. Believe me, I am not a huge fan of Nadal though I do like him and respect his achievements. But he richly deserves to be the king of clay. Sure, people are free to argue the point and have their own preferences but I don't think it is off base to assume that Nadal is the greatest on clay. And it isn't just RG, it's Monte Carlo and Rome as well. Just the number of trophies is staggering and up against two of the greatest players of all times in their primes, with just the two losses in a run of 11 years from 2005 to 2015. Anyway, I will stop here. ;) Let this thread be about the queen of clay.
And that's fair enough..... And when he wins 125 clay matches in a row..... Let's talk... ;)
 

BTURNER

Legend
9 soon to be 10 RG>>>>7 RG's ;)
Conversation over
Let's count majors together. RG on red European clay. 1974, 1975, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1986. US Open on Har Tru Green clay. 1975, 1976, 1977. In addition she reached the finals 1973, 1984. Evert of course has the longest single surface winning streak at 125 ( with the loss of only 8 sets) but she followed her loss with another 64 matches ( the third longest streak on clay. Nadal has the second). That means at one point she had a streak of 189 wins to one loss
I think this is an almost impossible call, but it's enough to reopen the conversation.
 
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70sHollywood

Guest
My problem with Evert compared with Rafa is she had those years 81, 82, 83, 84 where she lost 3/4 times at RG against Mandlikova, Jaeger and Navratilova - and she was easily beaten in the latter two.

I think Nadal was just slightly more formidable. I also value peak play highly and I'm not sure I would even pick Evert against Seles or Graf, whereas I have no doubt I would pick Rafa above anyone.
 
My problem with Evert compared with Rafa is she had those years 81, 82, 83, 84 where she lost 3/4 times at RG against Mandlikova, Jaeger and Navratilova - and she was easily beaten in the latter two.

I think Nadal was just slightly more formidable. I also value peak play highly and I'm not sure I would even pick Evert against Seles or Graf, whereas I have no doubt I would pick Rafa above anyone.
Exactly what I wanted to mention too. Nadal had the one loss against Soderling and then only in 2015 by which time he was a pale shadow of the player who had won all those RGs. Against Fed, he had a match up advantage but that he kept thwarting Djokovic even as it was clearly getting harder physically for him was even more impressive. And yet to lose an RG final. To be fair, Chris too lost only once in 1984 after the loss in 1973. Just saying it's hardly a cinch that Chris is superior on clay to Nadal. Yeah, also agreed that even going across eras, it's hard to think of one player who could beat Nadal on clay for sure. We might hazard a guess that somebody like Kuerten could give him a tough time but still favour Nadal for the win. An ultimate counterpuncher like Borg too but Nadal handled the rabbit-like Coria very well too and early in his career. Nadal has the perfect clay court game AND is a leftie which is a terrible combination for most of his opponents, thus his utter domination on clay.
 

BTURNER

Legend
Exactly what I wanted to mention too. Nadal had the one loss against Soderling and then only in 2015 by which time he was a pale shadow of the player who had won all those RGs. Against Fed, he had a match up advantage but that he kept thwarting Djokovic even as it was clearly getting harder physically for him was even more impressive. And yet to lose an RG final. To be fair, Chris too lost only once in 1984 after the loss in 1973. Just saying it's hardly a cinch that Chris is superior on clay to Nadal. Yeah, also agreed that even going across eras, it's hard to think of one player who could beat Nadal on clay for sure. We might hazard a guess that somebody like Kuerten could give him a tough time but still favour Nadal for the win. An ultimate counterpuncher like Borg too but Nadal handled the rabbit-like Coria very well too and early in his career. Nadal has the perfect clay court game AND is a leftie which is a terrible combination for most of his opponents, thus his utter domination on clay.
I am a big 'career man'. I do not edit for those premature years or those 'shadow' years. I see all that as the context in which we must see the wins. So its impossible to judge these two on their results in total until we know when Nadal stops and what losses he is willing to acrue to reach for an 11th.

it sure isn't a cinch either way
 
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Gizo

Hall of Fame
Evert was amazing on clay (red clay in Europe or green clay in the US) and is definitely the queen of the surface. However there's no doubt in my mind that Nadal's clay court achievements are considerably more impressive.

Women's clay court tennis has generally been a complete and utter joke, with a total lack of depth and lack of players who have even looked comfortable playing on the surface. Evert herself said when was emerging on the tour, that very few female players looked particularly strong on clay. That was highlighted by the fact that while the men's Italian and German Opens were strong and highly regarded tournaments, the women's equivalents were third rate events at best until the mid to late 80s Graf and Sabatini came along. The strongest clay court era in women's tennis was unquestionably the early to mid 90s when Seles, Graf, ASV and Sabatini were competing against each other.

It has often been said that there is generally more depth in men's tennis than women's, and the surface where that has generally always been most evident has been clay. There have been many occasions when I have preferred watching women's tennis over men's on grass, indoors or hard courts. But clay has always been a different story. Generally i have thought that indoor tennis has brought out the best in a lot of the WTA players, while clay court tennis has brought out the worst in a lot of them.

In men's tennis there have always been considerably more more clay court specialists, or players that have regarded clay as their favourite surface, that have emerged from mainland Europe or Latin America. In women's tennis including during Evert's career, that hasn't ever been anything remotely comparable to that. With all due respect Evert's draws to win her clay court majors, when many players in the draws were from English speaking countries, will have been like holiday camps compared to Nadal's.

I think that player like Billie Jean King winning her title at RG in 1972 would be the equivalent to someone like Newcombe doing the same in men's tennis (he either wasn't able to play at RG due to player politics or struggled there when he was able to show up). Similarly to me a player like Sharapova winning RG 2 times in 3 years from 2012-2014 would be the equivalent to someone like Tsonga doing that in men's tennis.

That sounds very disrespectful to Evert's clay court achievements and I don't mean it to be. I will say that I think that a lot of her achievements on other surfaces have often been underrated. But I just think that Nadal's on clay are better. 9 clay court majors in men's tennis is just far more impressive to me that 10 clay court majors in women's tennis where there has usually been wafer thin strength in depth on the surface in comparison.
 
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BTURNER

Legend
Evert was amazing on clay (red clay in Europe or green clay in the US) and is definitely the queen of the surface. However there's no doubt in my mind that Nadal's clay court achievements are considerably more impressive.

Women's clay court tennis has generally been a complete and utter joke, with a total lack of depth and lack of players who have even looked comfortable playing on the surface. Evert herself said when was emerging on the tour, that very few female players looked particularly strong on clay. That was highlighted by the fact that while the men's Italian and German Opens were strong and highly regarded tournaments, the women's equivalents were third rate events at best until the mid to late 80s Graf and Sabatini came along. The strongest clay court era in women's tennis was unquestionably the early to mid 90s when Seles, Graf, ASV and Sabatini were competing against each other.

It has often been said that there is generally more depth in men's tennis than women's, and the surface where that has generally always been most evident has been clay. There have been many occasions when I have preferred watching women's tennis over men's on grass, indoors or hard courts. But clay has always been a different story. Generally i have thought that indoor tennis has brought out the best in a lot of the WTA players, while clay court tennis has brought out the worst in a lot of them.

In men's tennis there have always been considerably more more clay court specialists, or players that have regarded clay as their favourite surface, that have emerged from mainland Europe or Latin America. In women's tennis including during Evert's career, that hasn't ever been anything remotely comparable to that. With all due respect Evert's draws to win her clay court majors, when many players in the draws were from English speaking countries, will have been like holiday camps compared to Nadal's.

I think that player like Billie Jean King winning her title at RG in 1972 would be the equivalent to someone like Newcombe doing the same in men's tennis (he either wasn't able to play at RG due to player politics or struggled there when he was able to show up). Similarly to me a player like Sharapova winning RG 2 times in 3 years from 2012-2014 would be the equivalent to someone like Tsonga doing that in men's tennis.

That sounds very disrespectful to Evert's clay court achievements and I don't mean it to be. I will say that I think that a lot of her achievements on other surfaces have often been underrated. But I just think that Nadal's on clay are better. 9 clay court majors in men's tennis is just far more impressive to me that 10 clay court majors in women's tennis where there has usually been wafer thin strength in depth on the surface in comparison.
I agree with your basic premise about depth of women's clay play in the mid to late seventies but you overstate it a bit. We will agree that European players were comfortable on dirt, and American and British players were not. But I think you miscalculate Down Under. Both men and women were often very comfortable sliding on clay because they had a lot of clay courts in Australia and New Zealand and both boys and girls had plenty of access in large parts of the continent both rural and including Melbourne . Its no surprise that Court, Goolagong, Turnbull, Laver, Rosewall, Stolle, were all great movers on clay even early in their careers.

I will also agree that depth was decidedly better on clay for women in the mid eighties to early 90's with the swing toward European champions. The seeds were planted however with Navratilova, Jaeger, and Mandlikova in 1980 .
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
I agree with your basic premise about depth of women's clay play in the mid to late seventies but you overstate it a bit. We will agree that European players were comfortable on dirt, and American and British players were not. But I think you miscalculate Down Under. Both men and women were often very comfortable sliding on clay because they had a lot of clay courts in Australia and New Zealand and both boys and girls had plenty of access in large parts of the continent both rural and including Melbourne . Its no surprise that Court, Goolagong, Turnbull, Laver, Rosewall, Stolle, were all great movers on clay even early in their careers.

I will also agree that depth was decidedly better on clay for women in the mid eighties to early 90's with the swing toward European champions. The seeds were planted however with Navratilova, Jaeger, and Mandlikova in 1980 .
I don't think that I am overstating it to be honest. In all my years of following tennis, there has never been a period when the strength depth on clay in women's tennis has come remotely close to that in men's tennis. Clay has always been the surface with the biggest gulf in depth between the two tours. It's true that a lot of those Aussie players grew up on clay-equivalent surfaces such as antbed where they could slide. But firstly there many more of those Aussies that were comfortable on clay to contend with in men's tennis than women's tennis, and secondly on top of that in men's tennis there were also far more European and Latin American players brought up on clay to worry about as well.

Evert's first 4 RG titles came when the draw size was 64 players. I agree that the women's clay court field was better in the 80s than the 70s. But it was still wafer thin compared to the men's field on clay at the time. In the men's game the big guns had many, many, many more dangerous clay court specialists or players brought up on clay to worry about in the earlier rounds, whether it was Juan Aguilera, or Cassio Motta, or Martin Jaite, or Hans Gildermeister or Kent Carlsson and the list goes on and on. A similar list in any women's field in history would be very short in comparison.

Admittedly in modern day men's tennis the number of clay court specialists have declined as things have become far more hard-court centric. But en-route to Nadal's most dominant RG campaign in 2008, he faced Bellucci in the 1st round and Devilder in the 2nd round. Now those names don't sound impressive and he dispatched them comfortably (thought Bellucci was superb for the first 2 sets), but they were opponents who were both raised on clay and regard it as their favourite surface. Similarly he has faced opponents like Zeballos, Bolelli and Gabashvili in the early rounds at RG, again brought up on clay and counting it as their favourite surface.

And then even before the semi-final stages, where are the equivalents to the likes of Almagro, Fognini, Monaco in Evert's era on clay in or any women's clay court era in history? There just hasn't ever been anything to compare to that.

Now because of the lack in depth in women's tennis in general, the first week of majors on any surface were usually a leisurely stroll in the park for Evert, Navratilova, Graf. That continued into the 00s. But on no surface was that more true than on clay.

To be honest I might argue that Borg's clay court achievements are more impressive than Evert's, again that he had to contend with significantly more strength in depth on the surface across on the board from right from Round 1 to finals day.

I don't rate Jon Wertheim that highly as a tennis writer, but he once summed up this perfectly. There has never been the same clay court culture in women's tennis as there has been in men's, and because of the significantly reduced depth and number of dangerous specialists in women's tennis, surfaces differences have been a less important factor. That explains why the 5 greatest female tennis players from the past 50-60 years have won every major on multiple occasions.

Therefore amongst that backdrop, a male tennis player ruthlessly dominating on clay is always going to be a better and more impressive achievement than a female tennis player doing likewise.
 
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Admittedly in modern day men's tennis the number of clay court specialists have declined as things have become far more hard-court centric.
While the number of clay court specialists has gone down, the hard court players of today are in general quite comfortable on clay. Of the big four, Murray is the weakest on clay and even he has made an RG final as well as semis. We have had non big four players make finals at RG (Ferrer/Soderling) and even win it (Wawrinka). Didn't mention Puerta because Big Four wasn't a relevant concept at that time. On the other hand, Puerta was a clay courter. Since players play with a heavy topspin game and slide even on HC, the idea of a clay court specialist who relied heavily on counterpunching has less relevance now.
 

Gizo

Hall of Fame
While the number of clay court specialists has gone down, the hard court players of today are in general quite comfortable on clay. Of the big four, Murray is the weakest on clay and even he has made an RG final as well as semis. We have had non big four players make finals at RG (Ferrer/Soderling) and even win it (Wawrinka). Didn't mention Puerta because Big Four wasn't a relevant concept at that time. On the other hand, Puerta was a clay courter. Since players play with a heavy topspin game and slide even on HC, the idea of a clay court specialist who relied heavily on counterpunching has less relevance now.
That's a good point. In the earliers rounds of RG, while the likes of Nadal and Djokovic have been less likely to run in a scary and hugely dangerous opponent in the 2nd round, but on the flipside they've also been less likely to run into an opponent i.e. an Aussie serve-volleyer that has been totally uncomfortable or a fish out of water on the surface.

Of course in the women's game, there are still all too few players who look comfortable on clay or constructing points on it. Roddick improved noticeably on clay in 2009-2010 under Stefanki, but couldn't get past the 4th round at RG. In the women's game a player can make the same level improvements and turn into a genuine title contender. I never actually thought that Sharapova has been a better player on clay than hard courts, it's just that she was able to achieve more on clay in this decade because there is way, way less strength in depth and dangerous opponents on the surface compared to hard courts.

But on the flip side in recent years I have often preferred watching the women's events on hard courts than the men's.
 
That's a good point. In the earliers rounds of RG, while the likes of Nadal and Djokovic have been less likely to run in a scary and hugely dangerous opponent in the 2nd round, but on the flipside they've also been less likely to run into an opponent i.e. an Aussie serve-volleyer that has been totally uncomfortable or a fish out of water on the surface.
I think that could still happen if we went back to 16 instead of 32 seeds. Much of the predictability is simply due to how sheltered the seeds are. With clay being slow (unlike Wimbledon in the first week), it's hard for somebody to do a Dustin Brown on Nadal. On the other hand, if a Fognini was drawn against top players in the early rounds, it could be interesting. But cannot happen because he's ranked no.28. When Lori McNeil upset Graf in the first round at Wimbledon in 94, she was ranked no. 29. So it wasn't so much that Graf was embarrassingly bad that tournament but that she had to play a tough opponent on a tough day at Wimbledon. That can no longer happen in tennis, for better or worse.
I never actually thought that Sharapova has been a better player on clay than hard courts, it's just that she was able to achieve more on clay in this decade because there is way, way less strength in depth and dangerous opponents on the surface compared to hard courts.
Completely agree there. Henin beat Sharapova at RG, albeit in a tough match, even during her brief and unsuccessful comeback.
But on the flip side I must have admit that in recent years I have often preferred watching the women's events on hard courts than the men's.
WTA was more enjoyable last year, for sure. Marginally so in 2015 as well. This year, both tours have been kind of strange but with Zverev's imminent rise, maybe it will be a better year for ATP. Muguruza and Bencic showed early promise but have struggled since. Pliskova has also blown hot and cold. When a guy wins an ATP 1000 and by beating top players en route, it suggests he is not far off the level where he could be a contender for slams. We cannot say the same about women winning Premier events, unfortunately. Halep has been doing well in Premier events but regressed at the slams, for instance.
 

suwanee4712

Professional
Yes it is a shame. World Team Tennis is a neat idea but what a travesty of tennis justice that it directly competed with legitimate tennis tournaments. I love BJK but nobody is perfect and that is one glaring splotch. But anyone that played WTT then I assume was chasing money and let the record books judge you fairly and the fact is we will never know IF she would have won. Probably but not definitely. They play the tournaments for a reason. Sue barker, Mima Jausovec and Virginia Ruzici have no apologies to make. They are every bit as deserving those years as any of Evert's 7 wins; particularly 1983(thanks Kathleen Horvath, hope she still sends you a birthday card every year.).
Completely agree
 

Greatgatsby

Semi-Pro
My problem with Evert compared with Rafa is she had those years 81, 82, 83, 84 where she lost 3/4 times at RG against Mandlikova, Jaeger and Navratilova - and she was easily beaten in the latter two.

I think Nadal was just slightly more formidable. I also value peak play highly and I'm not sure I would even pick Evert against Seles or Graf, whereas I have no doubt I would pick Rafa above anyone.
In 1983 she won her 5th FO. That was the only time she won 3 majors in a row. This was particularly a shock because this was when MN had switched to the graphite racket and was winning pretty much everything else. The next SIX majors were won by Martina.
 

PDJ

G.O.A.T.
In 1983 she won her 5th FO. That was the only time she won 3 majors in a row. This was particularly a shock because this was when MN had switched to the graphite racket and was winning pretty much everything else. The next SIX majors were won by Martina.
Evert rarely played all 4 majors in one year. She only played the AO six times in a near 20 year career.
 

Greatgatsby

Semi-Pro
Evert rarely played all 4 majors in one year. She only played the AO six times in a near 20 year career.
True. 74 FO, 74 W, 75 FO, 75 US, 76 W, 76 US, 77 US, 78 US, 79 FO, 80 FO, 80 US, 81 W, 82 US, 82 AO, 83 FO, 84 AO, 85 FO, 86 FO.

So correcting my claim she did do it one other time when she won the 75 US, chose to skip the FO playing WTT, 76 W and 76 US. She won three majors in a row when she chose to play. (I think she should get penalties for playing WTT and missing majors.)
 
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PDJ

G.O.A.T.
True. 74 FO, 74 W, 75 FO, 75 US, 76 W, 76 US, 77 US, 78 US, 79 FO, 80 FO, 80 US, 81 W, 82 US, 82 AO, 83 FO, 84 AO, 85 FO, 86 FO.

So correcting my claim she did do it one other time when she won the 75 US, chose to skip the FO playing WTT, 76 W and 76 US. She won three majors in a row when she chose to play. (I think she should get penalties for playing WTT and missing majors.)
Evert is already penalised purely because players are judged solely on majors won, when priorities were very different when Evert was at her peak- I have no doubt her total would be very different had she played the AO more than a handful of times, and missing the French when at her most dominant.
The only exception is Court's record, which is generally a source of debate by Williams fans/detractors.
 

thrust

Hall of Fame
The problem in the 70's is that a lot of the top players in the sport(other than Court) hated playing the European clay circuit. Goolagong rarely went after 1973 after having beat Evert in the Italian. King rarely went. Wade rarely went. Navratilova skipped for 7 years after she reached the final in 1975 and took a set of Evert. We both know that Evert had gotten a lot better, tougher on every surface between 1975-1979, but it was convenient that the US Open showed how hopeless it was to draw any serious blood from Chris on clay.
Clay was the worst surface for King, Goolagong, Bueno, Hard, Navratilova, Wade and other grass court specialists. The same was true of the men's game when some clay court specialists skipped Wimbledon, because the clay was slower then, while the grass was faster than today. Evert and Court, of that era, were the only two that were great on clay and grass. I always hated WTT, which was nothing more than a money making gimmick, especially for BJK.
 
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thrust

Hall of Fame
Evert was amazing on clay (red clay in Europe or green clay in the US) and is definitely the queen of the surface. However there's no doubt in my mind that Nadal's clay court achievements are considerably more impressive.

Women's clay court tennis has generally been a complete and utter joke, with a total lack of depth and lack of players who have even looked comfortable playing on the surface. Evert herself said when was emerging on the tour, that very few female players looked particularly strong on clay. That was highlighted by the fact that while the men's Italian and German Opens were strong and highly regarded tournaments, the women's equivalents were third rate events at best until the mid to late 80s Graf and Sabatini came along. The strongest clay court era in women's tennis was unquestionably the early to mid 90s when Seles, Graf, ASV and Sabatini were competing against each other.

It has often been said that there is generally more depth in men's tennis than women's, and the surface where that has generally always been most evident has been clay. There have been many occasions when I have preferred watching women's tennis over men's on grass, indoors or hard courts. But clay has always been a different story. Generally i have thought that indoor tennis has brought out the best in a lot of the WTA players, while clay court tennis has brought out the worst in a lot of them.

In men's tennis there have always been considerably more more clay court specialists, or players that have regarded clay as their favourite surface, that have emerged from mainland Europe or Latin America. In women's tennis including during Evert's career, that hasn't ever been anything remotely comparable to that. With all due respect Evert's draws to win her clay court majors, when many players in the draws were from English speaking countries, will have been like holiday camps compared to Nadal's.

I think that player like Billie Jean King winning her title at RG in 1972 would be the equivalent to someone like Newcombe doing the same in men's tennis (he either wasn't able to play at RG due to player politics or struggled there when he was able to show up). Similarly to me a player like Sharapova winning RG 2 times in 3 years from 2012-2014 would be the equivalent to someone like Tsonga doing that in men's tennis.

That sounds very disrespectful to Evert's clay court achievements and I don't mean it to be. I will say that I think that a lot of her achievements on other surfaces have often been underrated. But I just think that Nadal's on clay are better. 9 clay court majors in men's tennis is just far more impressive to me that 10 clay court majors in women's tennis where there has usually been wafer thin strength in depth on the surface in comparison.
Had Court been on the tour, instead of being pregnant and giving birth, King probably would not have won the FO in 72..
 
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