The Rivals

The Rivals

by JohnetteHoward (Author)


In March 1973 two women met on a tennis court in Akron, Ohio. Over the course of the next sixteen years, together they would change the world. In their long careers Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert played each other eighty times, sixty of those in finals. For twelve consecutive years, from 1975 to 1986, one or other finished the season ranked No. 1 in the world. Each set out to be the finest player women's tennis had ever seen; each goaded the other to greatness. Their contrasting styles - Martina, the epitome of serve-and-volley tennis, bravely charging to the net against cool and controlled Chris, the world's greatest baseline player - captivated millions across the globe. Tennis was a chauvinistic game when they arrived. But their brilliance demanded, and received, long-overdue respect for female sporting achievement. Their ability to forge a close friendship amidst their fierce competition still provokes wonder and admiration from fans. There has never been a sporting rivalry to match the intensity, longevity, public impact and emotional resonance of the years-long duel between these two great athletes. For nearly two decades we were transfixed by the struggle between the ice-maiden Chris - blonde, all-American, a nation's sweetheart - and the supreme athlete Martina, a Czech defector, the first outspoken openly gay athlete in female sport, and a woman who wore her heart on her sleeve at all times. Their lockstep careers played out against the backdrop of seismic change in sport and society: the women's movement; the gay rights' movement; the fall of the Iron Curtain; and the rise of women's tennis from backwater to big time (with a huge nod of gratitude to Billie Jean King). Thirty years on from the first meeting, both have become legends. Based on interviews with both Martina and Chris and those who knew them best, Johnette Howard gives us the story of these two remarkable women. Brilliantly researched, beautifully written, Unrivalled will be read by those who love sport for years to come.


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More Information

Format: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Edition: illustrated edition
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press
Published: 16 Jun 2005

ISBN 10: 0224075055
ISBN 13: 9780224075053
Book Overview: There has never been a sporting rivalry to match the intensity, longevity, public impact and emotional resonance of the years-long duel between these two great athletes.

Media Reviews
Together, match by match, final by final, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova changed women's tennis forever. I watched their rivalry with awe and pride: two remarkable athletes, fierce competitors--and good friends. It's hard to remember what it was like for women and women athletes in particular back then; Johnette Howard captures it all in vivid detail. The Rivals is must reading for anyone with a passion for tennis and for anyone curious about Evert and Navratilova's utter transformation of the women's side of the game. --Billie Jean King For all our seeming familiarity with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, Johnette Howard takes us deep inside the greatest rivalry in tennis history to reveal how it took the two champions the length of their twenty-year tennis war to truly know and love each other and themselves. With diligence and skill Howard chronicles their magnificent battles on the court, their turbulent times off the court, and the civil wars they waged within their own fragile psyches. It makes the journeys taken and the destinations reached all the more remarkable. --Mary Carillo, CBS Sports With Chrissie and Martina as the leading ladies, Johnette Howard insightfully takes us on a marvelous tour through the panorama of the rise of professional tennis. She digs well below the surface of a tennis court to probe celebrated psyches as never before. --Bud Collins, Boston Globe/NBC Finally, here is the definitive, inside-out look at one of the most gripping rivalries and relationships in sports. Johnette Howard's insightful and writerly book is the story of friendly enemies, and enormous friends--two women who were alternately competitorsand confidantes. It places Evert and Navratilova alongside Palmer and Nicklaus, Magic and Bird, and Ali and Frazier, but it also, rightly, sets them apart, historically inseparable and unique. --Sally Jenkins, coauthor of It's Not About the Bike and Every Second Counts
Author Bio
Johnette Howard is an award-winning sports journalist. Previously with the Washington Post and Sports Illustrated, she has been a sports columnist at Newsday since 1999. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2000, and her work is included in David Halberstam's Best American Sports Writing of the Century. She has known Martina Navratilova for over ten years.