By Erik Gudris | Thursday, May 22, 2014
On the upcoming 40th anniversary of her first French Open title, Chris Evert talked about this year's event and on Caroline Wozniacki's recent split.
Photo Credit: Getty
Chris Evert knows a thing or two, make it seven actually, about the French Open.
The seven-time Roland Garros champion discussed this year's event on a conference call Wednesday with fellow ESPN tennis analyst Patrick McEnroe.
Off-Court Surprise: McIlroy Calls Off Wozniacki Engagement
Though Evert agreed a slow changing of the guard is underway, the game's elite are still very much the favorites for the title. That includes Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams.
"I think when you look at the top two, Nadal and Djokovic, they’re not letting anybody in. They’re not opening the door yet. But in two years’ time I think it’s going to be a different complexion," Evert said. "I look at the women and I see the same thing. I see Serena dominating. She’s still dominating. She gets injured, a few losses, but still the dominant player. But you have a rich pool between Li Na, (Simona) Halep, Maria Sharapova, (Ana) Ivanovic, Sloane (Stephens) is in a little bit of a slump right now. You can say the same. There’s the top two in the men and the top two in the women that are fending everybody off so far."
On recent comments Williams made about not putting as much pressure on herself to defend her title, Evert believes the World No.1 will find an extra source of motivation.
"As long as she’s fit, if she’s healthy, motivated, she’s the one to beat. So far, you know, I very rarely see a Serena Williams that’s not motivated. I think this tournament will motivate her," Evert said. "I don’t think she will feel the pressure, I really don’t. She’s played enough tennis. She knows what her place in history is now. She’s gunning for those Grand Slam titles."
When Evert won her first French Open back in 1974, she was also dating Jimmy Connors in the same year. The difficulty of trying to balance a professional tennis career and a personal life proved too much as the pair eventually split.
Evert herself could see parallels in her own life when asked about the recent news that Rory McIlroy ended his recent engagement to Caroline Wozniacki.
"It doesn’t surprise me," Evert said. I don’t even know them. I look back at Jimmy and I. To look at two players that are in the prime of their career and are striving to be No. 1, don’t see each other. I mean, I was married in my 20s to my tennis. That was the only way I could put all my emotions and energies into that goal."
"I was in awe that it worked as long as it did," Evert added about McIlroy and Wozniacki. "I can’t believe it. They must be just different kind of people. I understand 100 percent, you’re married to your career."
ESPN2 and ESPN3 will begin French Open coverage starting on Sunday, May 25.