Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova are famous for having one of the most intense rivalries between two women the world has ever seen. For 16 years, the pain and glory they brought to the tennis court captivated audiences and sparked a revolution in women's sports. But off the court, what fans and critics didn't see was that Chris and Martina had a remarkable friendship. Chris and Martina are now sharing the real story that brought them together and created a lasting bond.
Back in 1971, Chris burst onto the tennis scene, and America fell in love with the fresh-faced teenager in a ponytail and ribbons. Chris made headlines for her moves both on and off the court with an engagement to tennis star Jimmy Connors the same year they both won Wimbledon. Their fairy-tale love match did not last, and Chris was linked to movie stars and even a president's son.
In striking contrast to Chris's image as America's sweetheart, Martina was born in communist Czechoslovakia. At the height of the Cold War in 1975, Martina famously left the grounds of the U.S. Open and announced she was defecting to the United States. "I didn't get enough opportunities to play as much tennis as I wanted," Martina says. Like Chris, Martina's personal life was also under at microscope—she was one of the first openly gay athletes.