It is one of the greatest (if not, the greatest) tennis rivalry in history. Some would argue it spans beyond tennis and should be labelled the greatest sports rivalry of all time.
Between 1973 and 1989, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova played a total of 80 times. 80 career meetings through 16 years. To compare, a popular ATP rivalry today between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal has spanned 11 years and they’ve played 50 matches.
It was Navratilova who held the upper-hand in their head-to-head record (43-37) but, as the record suggests, their matches were nothing short of miraculous.
It was a battle of no. 1 Navratilova vs. no. 2 Evert in the 1983 Canadian Open final (now known as Rogers Cup). The championship match was a graceful clash of style – Evert’s controlled and disciplined baseline game against Navratilova’s explosive serve and volley. It was the pair’s 53rd career meeting and 39th time they met in a final. Their rivalry was 10 years in at that point – an unbelievable statistic that feeds to the legacy of their rivalry.
To that point in their head-to-head Evert held the advantage in third sets 11-7. The Canadian Open final, which Navratilova won 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, nearly flipped the script on their rivalry. After winning in Canada, Navratilova won seven of their next ten matches that went the distance.
Their rivalry ended with Evert leading 15-14 in matches that went to a third set. It is the only area in which Evert led her compatriot – Navratilova lead in matches won, finals won, WTA Tour Championship won, meetings in Grand Slams, and matches that ended in straight sets.
Both Evert and Navratilova are three-time singles champions at Rogers Cup. Navratilova also holds six doubles titles at the tournament, making her overall total nine titles that range from 1982 to 2006. Today you can find them in the commentary box offering insights and analysis on several WTA tournaments and the Grand Slams.