40 years ago at French, Evert won 1st major title

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 24, 2014 at 2:34 am •  Published: May 24, 2014
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PARIS (AP) — Asked whether a particular moment stands out from her run to the 1974 French Open championship, the first of her 18 career Grand Slam singles titles, Chris Evert let out a loud laugh.

"I'm embarrassed to say that my only memory is that it was my first French Open title. It's 40 years ago!" Evert said. "I did another interview and I had to ask the guy who I beat in the final."

For the record, Evert's opponent back then was Olga Morozova, and the score was 6-1, 6-2. Evert, 19 at the time, would go on to win a total of seven French Open trophies, along with six from the U.S. Open, three from Wimbledon, and two from the Australian Open.

When this year's edition of the clay-court Grand Slam tournament begins Sunday, Evert will be on hand at Roland Garros as a TV analyst for ESPN, watching what's become a changed brand of tennis four decades later.

"In those days, there weren't very many clay-court players and the game was serve-and volley. Very few women knew how to play on clay, because most tournaments were on grass or hard courts," Evert said. "The style sort of depends, in general, on who the No. 1 player is, and I might have started a focus on the clay-court game a little bit more. Because after me, then came the Steffi Grafs, the Monica Seleses — players who thought it was OK to get 10 or 20 balls in the court."

And now?

"Today it's a lot different," she said. "Everybody's at the baseline."

That includes Serena Williams, who is seeded No. 1 at the French Open and won it last year, more than a decade after her other championship in Paris, in 2002. Another victory would give Williams 18 major titles, pulling her even with Evert and her longtime rival, Martina Navratilova.