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On This Date in Sports July 6, 1985: Martina vs Chris

in collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

 

It is the best in the world on center court in Wimbledon as arch-rival Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert-Lloyd meet in the sixth straight Grand Slam that the two rivals faced each other. Each entered the tournament at the All-England Lawn and Tennis club, holding a share of the number one ranking. Navratilova would win the match in three sets (4-6, 6-3, 6-2). For Martina Navratilova, it is the fourth straight singles title at Wimbledon. 

Christine Marie Evert was born on December 21, 1954, in Fort Lauderdale. She learned how to play tennis at an early age, thanks to lessons from her father, who had been a tennis champion and was a top tier tennis coach. By the age of 14, she was one of the top junior players in the world. Upon turning professional and joining the tour, Evert quickly became one of the top-ranked women in the world. In 1974, she won he first two grand slam titles, taking both the French Open and Wimbledon. She spent five years as the top-ranked woman in the world, winning 18 grand slam titles.

Martina Navratilova was born behind the iron curtain in Czechoslovakia on October 18, 1956. She learned to play in the Czech tennis academy, wanting to get more exposure on tour and escape the restrictive communist government, Navratilova defected and got political asylum in 1974 after playing in her first U.S. Open. She later obtained her green card and became an American Citizen in 1981. As she was seeking her citizenship, Navratilova rose to become the top-ranked woman in the world, winning 18 grand slam titles. 

Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who was now married to John Lloyd, a British tennis star, became the biggest rivals on the women’s tour. Over 12 years from 1975-1987, one of the two was the top-ranked player in the world, for all but 23 weeks. Between 1981-1985, the two won 15 straight grand slam titles. Navratilova and Evert would also combine to win 21 of 24 singles titles, with at least one appearing in each of 24 consecutive grand slam finals. Head-to-head they met 80 times, with Martina holding a 43-37 edge. This includes 60 final matches on the WTA, in which Martina again holds a 36-24 ledge. In Grand Slams they met 14 times with the championship on the line, Martina Navratilova won ten of those final matches. 

Like a pair of locomotives, Martin Navratilova and Chris Evert-Lloyd did not lose a set on the way to their showdown in the Wimbledon Finals. Navratilova was at the peak of her career; she had won three of the four grand slam titles in 1983 and 1984. At the French Open in 1985, she lost a classic finals match to her arch-rival. Chris Evert-Lloyd meanwhile was reaching the ebb of her career. Things looked good for Evert-Lloyd early as she won the first set 6-4. However, the younger Navratilova had more strength and stamina winning the second set 6-3, and cruising to 6-2 win in the final set.     

The grass of Wimbledon was always kind to Martin Navratilova; she won six straight singles titles from 1982-1987. Chris Evert-Lloyd was better on the clay in France, where she had her final grand slam win in 1986. After a divorce, Chris Evert would retire in 1989. She would go on Saturday Night Live and lampoon her rivalry with Martina Navratilova.