By Mark Gauert
City & Shore Magazine
We began our interview with Chris Evert for this issue by reminding her that we’d met before.
She’d had a house full of busy kids back then – ages 12, 9 and 7 – and their West Boca home was set up for fun. Her life at 48 was far from Center Court when writer Nicole Brochu interviewed her for City & Shore in 2003 – taking the kids indoor skating in Pompano Beach or racing motorbikes in Dania Beach or ordering in pizza and watching Adam Sandler’s Big Daddy on the big-screen TV. (The sacrifices parents make.)
She’d been giving back to her family and her community, we wrote in the story in the December 2003 issue, ever since 1989, when she stepped away from the professional circuit that had made her a legend. That same year, she started the Chris Evert Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic – which marks its 30th year as a champion for at-risk children Nov. 22-24 at the Delray Beach Tennis Center.
City & Shore’s founding art director, Greg Carannante – who interviewed Chris for this issue – remembers our 2003 meeting well, too.
“When we arrived at her home, the first thing photographer Andrew Itkoff and I noticed was the big trampoline her kids were jumping on in the back yard,” Greg says. “We both immediately thought the same thing: We’ve got to shoot Chris jumping on that trampoline!
“At first, she politely demurred, but after the photo session, as we were about to leave, I gently nudged her again,” Greg says. “I think she took it as a challenge, and she hopped up there, showed off her best mid-air poses and gave us an action sequence of the coolest celebrity shots the magazine had run.”
We would talk with her again in 2008 when she was on the cusp of life as an empty nester. (If you’re doing the math, we’ve done a story on our sports-hero-next-door approximately every six years since we started the magazine in 2001.) So it’s reassuring for those of us in PRIME’s target demo, who grew up admiring her two-handed backhand – and two-fisted nerve – to find her as formidable, focused – and fun – as ever.
“I’m 64 and I still have some good jobs going, so I don’t take that for granted,” she says in our interview, https://bit.ly/2NOq6WN. “I signed up with ESPN about eight years ago … It’s a lot of fun. I’m not going to take on anything at this stage in my life if it’s not fun.”
These days, the kids she chases around are most likely to be the young players she teaches four days a week on the courts of the Evert Tennis Academy she owns and manages with her brother John.
“That has been a great thing for me, as far as life after tennis,” she says. “To have a tennis academy and teach, mentor and coach kids, that’s been really a lot of fun.”
As Greg recalled coaxing her onto the trampoline the first time we met, Chris said she remembered doing it.
“I may be wrong, but I suspect that shared memory had something to do with the warm, candid and conversational way that she proceeded to share with us the story of her life growing up in Fort Lauderdale in this issue,” Greg says.
“I told her the trampoline shoot with her that day had been a career highlight for me,’’ he says.
“OK, wow,” Chris said. “I can’t do that for you now though.”
That’s OK, I thought. Next time.
Photo: Chris Evert midflight on the trampoline for our photo shoot in 2003. Photo by Andrew Itkoff