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The champion athletes were such extreme opposites that their legendary matches were dubbed "fire and ice." Chris was known for being stone-faced and calculating. "My dad told me at a very young age, 'Don't let your opponent see how you're feeling if you're losing because they'll use it to their advantage,'" Chris says. Martina, on the other hand, openly wore her emotions on her sleeve. "I couldn't keep it inside, but nobody ever told me that I should," Martina says. "So I was pretty much on my own, at least from the neck up."

Although Chris dominated the first years of their competitions, a determined Martina whipped herself into shape, and her natural athleticism showed. "The mental side was my strength, and I wasn't the tremendous athlete that a Martina was or Steffi Graf," Chris says. "Those women could be Olympic athletes in anything that they tried." Martina, however, disagrees. "Synchronized swimming would not be something I would excel at," she jokes.

While the press loved to run stories about their rivalry, Chris and Martina say they completely supported each other off the court. "What's weird about tennis is you're both in the locker room before the match and after the match, and one is very happy and one is very sad," Martina says. "But we would put our arms around each other and say, 'You know what, I was lucky,' or, 'Next time you're going to get it, I'm sure', and, 'Are you okay?' Or we would leave notes in each other's racket bags for later."
FROM: Sports Legends Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Vivian Stringer
Published on December 01, 2008


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