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Chris Evert-Mills

'Chrissie' as she is known on the tennis circuit was born on 21st December 1954 at Fort Lauderdale in Florida, USA and was coached by her father Jim, tennis pro of the 1940s. During a career lasting 18 years, she displayed a consistency, which very few players will be able to emulate. Ms Evert-Mills took part in 56 Grand Slam tournaments (reaching at least the semis in 52 of them) and won two Australian, seven French, three Wimbledon and six US Open singles titles.

Ms Evert-Mills first made an impression as a pony-tailed schoolgirl at the US Open of 1971, where she entered the semifinals as an amateur and an unseeded player, before losing to the ultimate winner, Billie Jean King. Her father wanted her to finish school before turning pro, which she did in 1972 on her eighteenth birthday. Her game will be remembered for the two handed backhand that she played with such consistency from the baseline. But what was more vital - many tennis followers fail to take this aspect into account - was the mental tenacity that she maintained over a very long period.

She had battled heavyweights like Margaret Court, Billie Jean King and Evonne Goolagong out of tennis early in her career. She was determined that nobody should easily dethrone her and when Martina Navratilova grew stronger, following a computerized gym-diet regimen, Ms Evert-Mills rededicated herself to work harder and counterpunched Ms Navratilova's serves and volleys. She says, "Martina and I have brought out the best in each other. At the beginning, I was beating her handily and then she started a new training technique and got into great shape and worked on her mental state and she started beating me. I didn't want to stay where I was. Martina made me work harder."

Ms Evert-Mills' intense rivalry with Ms Navratilova over a period of 15 years brought glory to women's tennis and made the game a great career option for many young players. She was so consistent that between 1974 and 1986 she won at least one Grand Slam title a year. Not surprisingly, she earned more than $ 9 million in prize money and several times that amount in endorsements during her playing career.

Ms. Evert-Mills now represents many companies as spokesperson and does tennis commentary for American TV channel, NBC. Monica Seles says that Ms Evert-Mills influenced tennis a lot by bringing femininity into it. That about sums it up.

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