Tennis Hall of Famer Chris Evert announced Friday that she has been diagnosed with an early stage of ovarian cancer.
Evert, 67, won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995. She revealed her diagnosis in a story posted Friday on ESPN.com; Evert is an on-air announcer for ESPN.
“I’ve lived a very charmed life. Now I have some challenges ahead of me,” Evert told ESPN. “But, I have comfort in knowing the chemotherapy is to ensure that cancer does not come back.”
Known as America’s tennis sweetheart, Evert was also called the “Ice Maiden” for her stoic approach to the game. Her patience and baseline game as a singles player helped her win three Wimbledon titles, seven French Open crowns, two Australian Open championships and six U.S. Open titles.
Evert’s younger sister, Jeanne Evert Dubin, died from ovarian cancer in February 2020 at age 62, according to ESPN.
The ovarian cancer is in an early stage and was discovered after a preventive hysterectomy, ESPN reported. Cancer has not been detected elsewhere in her body.
“Be your own advocate. Know your family’s history. Have total awareness of your body, follow your gut and be aware of changes,” Evert said in the ESPN story, which was co-written with Chris McKendry. “Don’t try to be a crusader and think this will pass.”
Martina Navratilova, who had a spirited rivalry with Evert during the 1970s and 1980s, tweeted her support Friday evening.
“You are a true champion and I have no doubt you will conquer this nasty opponent with nary a sweat,” tweeted Navratilova, who faced Evert in 80 singles matches, winning 43 of them. Sixty of those matches were the final rounds of tournaments, where Navratilova holds a 36-24 advantage.
Evert is a product of South Florida, where she learned tennis from her father, Jimmy Evert. She was born Dec. 21, 1954, in Fort Lauderdale and attended Central Catholic High School, which later became St. Thomas Aquinas High School, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
She became the first player, male or female, to win 1,000 singles matches, The New York Times reported. Chris Evert was ranked first or second in the world from 1975 to 1986, according to the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Evert owns the Evert Tennis Academy in Boca Raton and has been a resident in southern Palm Beach County for more than 30 years, the newspaper reported.
In the ESPN story, Evert admitted she was nervous.
“As someone who has always had control over my life, I have no idea how I’ll respond to chemotherapy,” Evert said. “I have to give in to something higher.”
Evert’s sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017. The siblings were trying to make a flight to Singapore to attend the WTA Finals when Evert realized her sister was out of breath.
“True to Jeanne’s personality and like many other women, Jeanne was busy taking care of everyone else,” Evert said in the ESPN story.
Durbin saw a doctor when the sisters returned to the United States and learned that she had late-stage ovarian cancer, which had spread through her body.
Evert said the memories of her sister’s strength as she battled cancer will motivate her during her own chemotherapy sessions.
“When I go into chemo, she is my inspiration,” Evert told ESPN. “I’ll be thinking of her. And she’ll get me through it.”
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