Jim Williams: Tennis legend Evert joins ESPN as an analyst

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Sports,Jim Williams

Chris Evert, who retired in 1989, still has the best career win percentage (89.96) by any professional tennis player in the history of the sport. She won 18 major singles titles, including six U.S. Opens, seven French Opens, three Wimbledons and two Australian Opens.

For years Evert was sought after by many networks to become a full-time analyst. Recently, she agreed to work for ESPN. The new four-year deal has her covering all four majors, as well as other tennis events.

What is the biggest change in tennis since you played?

Evert » "It really is three things. First, you have women with tremendous power able to serve at will over 100 miles per hour, and their ground strokes are simply blistering. Then the girls today are far more athletic than we were. Martina Navratilova started that movement and changed the way women played tennis forever. Then you have social media. More people all over the world now have access to the players. They share their thoughts and feelings and fans get closer to them making it truly a global sport."

Other than the Williams sisters -- Venus and Serena -- who are the next great American stars?

Evert » "The Williams sisters have been great champions, as well as outstanding ambassadors for our country. They have inspired the next wave of young women emerging from this great crop of juniors we now have, and they will be our future stars. Meanwhile, the world caught up to the United States and look at how many players from so many countries live and train here, which is great. We are still the hub of tennis, but it truly has become a game played in all four corners of the world."

You won every Grand Slam multiple times. Which one was the hardest to win?

Evert » "It is funny. Wimbledon was my favorite place to play, but Martina was just so darn tough to beat on grass. I mean, I won three titles there, but I made the finals 10 times, so clearly that was my toughest. I grew up on clay in Florida, so the French Open was like home to me. The U.S. Open in New York with the crowds and the super fans was great fun. As for the Australian, I wish I had played there more often. The people are great."

Examiner columnist Jim Williams is a seven-time Emmy Award-winning TV producer, director and writer. Check out his blog, Watch this!

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Jim Williams

Sports Columnist
The Washington Examiner