Classic Rivalries – Navratilova vs Evert
The greatest tennis rivalry of all time may very well be Navratilova vs. Evert. Both these ladies captured an astonishing 18 Grand Slams a piece. That’s 36 singles Grand Slams between the two of them. They met in 14 of those 36 Grand Slam singles finals too, with Navratilova edging out Evert 10-4. Overall, Navratilova holds a 43-37 edge.
This rivalry has multiple story arcs. Most interestingly, this was a one-way rivalry for the better part of the 70s. Evert closed out the 70s with a commanding 25 – 11 in their head to heads. That being said, Navratilova was starting to get the better of Evert at the Grand Slams, beating Evert in both the 1978 and 1979 Wimbledon Finals. Navratilova’s dominance over Evert at Wimbledon and on most surfaces would continue into the 80s. Of note, Navratilova would be especially dominant at Wimbledon, holding a 9-2 record against Evert. In addition to that great record against Evert at Wimbledon, she would also go on a 13-match winning streak from 1982 to 1984. Ouch!
However, while Navratilova held the advantage on the faster courts in the 80s with her wonderful serve and volley game, it would be Evert who would continue to hold the advantage on clay, especially in the middle of the decade. Most famously, she beat Navratilova at the French Open two years running at the tail end of her career, in 1985 and 1986. More impressive was the fact that she did it after going through the massive losing spell against Navratilova. It has been said that when Navratilova started adding the fitness and professionalism to the game, Evert followed suit. I guess it took Evert a bit of time to catch up!
The work must have paid off for Evert because to close out this rivalry, (between 1985 and 1988), she posted a 7-12 record against Navratilova. Considering she lost to Navratilova 13 times in a row, a 7-12 record is more than respectable, especially when you add those back-to-back French Open’s in 85 and 86 into the mix. In sum, this rivalry seems to have had three acts, one of early dominance by Evert, followed by complete annihilation by Navratilova, and finally, a healthy competitive rivalry at the tail end. Here’s some additional stats and facts to look at!
All matches: Navratilova 43–37
All finals: Navratilova 36–24
Grand Slam matches: Navratilova 14–8
Grand Slam finals: Navratilova 10–4
Grand Slam semifinals: Tied 4–4
WTA Tour Championships finals: Navratilova 2–1
Non-Grand Slam & Non-WTA Tour Championships finals: Navratilova 24–20
Three-set matches: Evert 15–14
Straight-set matches: Navratilova 29–22
Hard courts: Tied 8–8
Clay courts: Evert 11–3
Grass courts: Navratilova 10–5
Carpet courts: Navratilova 22–13
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