For 16 years, Evert and Navratilova faced each other on the tennis court; they met 80 times—and 60 times in finals. Newsday columnist Howard captivatingly tells the story of how these two women came together from disparate worlds and founded a complicated though lasting friendship. Evert, the charming, ponytailed daughter of a middle-class, all-American family, captured many fans' hearts when she arrived on the scene at 16. Navratilova, on the other hand, exuded seriousness; her determined look and sturdy frame matched her history, a dramatic, heart-wrenching one that involved leaving her family behind in communist Czechoslovakia. Howard shows how Evert and Navratilova's paths slowly merged, until they finally faced each other for the first time in 1973. From then until 1988, they traded leads, with Evert winning most of the early matches and Navratilova dominating in later years (overall, Navratilova held a 43–37 advantage). Howard is equally adept at covering the athletes' personal lives (she interviewed both players) as well as their competition and divergent playing styles. She also pays homage to stars like Billie Jean King, who was committed to promoting women's tennis, so this work makes a fine contribution to the history of women in sports.
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Of the great individual rivalries in modern sport--Ali-Frazier, Borg-McEnroe, Nicklaus-Palmer, Chamberlain-Russell, for example--the greatest was arguably that between tennis champions Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who played one another in 80 singles matches (60 of them finals) during the years 1973-88, Martina winning 43 and Chrissie taking 37. As Newsday sports columnist Howard ably shows, the rivalry was epic because both were the dominant players of the time, a title was usually at stake, together they elevated the game, and, perhaps most important, their sportsmanship toward one another fully transcended their on-court battles. Howard traces each player's early development--Evert in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and Navratilova in the small Prague suburb of Revnice--their careers, their personal journeys, and their classic matches. She fully covers Martina's controversial relationship with lover and personal-trainer Nancy Lieberman, who helped mold Navratilova into the forceful player she became. And Howard provides sizzling reportage of Evert-Navratilova's most famous matches, including the 1985 French Open final, which Evert won 6-3, 6-7, 7-5. Highly recommended for anyone looking to understand the essence of a champion. Alan Moores
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.