How tennis greats fared post-marriage

Author : Monika Shukla

In the first instalment of our article, we talked about the ladies bringing luck (or not) to the courts of their men. Now it’s the ladies themselves. Let’s see how they balanced their careers with their personal lives.

We’ll talk about five beauties on and off the court and their life with tennis and marriage.

Chris Evert — Chris Evert winner of 18 Grand Slam singles title. She turned pro in 1972. At the age of 16, she was the youngest tennis player to reach the semi-finals of U.S. Open championship. She ruled for seven years as the number 1 player in the world.

Evert was romantically paired with Jimmy Connors in 1974, when they won Wimbledon singles title individually. But their engagement couldn’t last long and they broke off later in that year.

Evert continued to be the world’s no.1 player for the next five years. She won her second French Open and the first of four straight US Open titles by defeating Evonne Goolagong Cawley in a three-set final.

1976, was an exclusive feature for Evert as she won both Wimbledon and U.S. Open title in the same year defeating Goolagong in exhilarating matches on grass and clay courts. Evert dominated the game and with her calm persona on court, she earned the nickname of the “Ice Maiden” of tennis. She won two more U.S Open majors in 1977 and 1978.

Evert got married to John Lloyd in 1979. She won 10 of her 18 grand-slams after getting married to Lloyd. That year she won French Open defeating Turnbull in a close match and lost to Navratilova in the Wimbledon final. She went on winning 9 more grand slams in the next seven years. Her last grand slam win was the French Open in the year 1986. A year later she divorced Lloyd.

In 1988, Evert married Andy Mill. This was the year she made it to her last grand slam finals in Australian Open where Steffi Graf beat her to the title.

US Open of 1989 was the last Grand slam Evert played losing in the quarterfinals to Zina Garrison by a score of 6–7, 2–6. Evert retired from professional arena the same year.

Evonne Goolagong Cawley — She is an Australian former tennis professional. She won total seven Grand Slam singles title. During 1970s, she reached seventeen Grand Slam singles finals, a record for any player; man or woman. From 1973 to 1978 she reached finals in almost every Grand Slam tournament she played. She was one of the leading players in 1970s and early 1980s.

Goolagong tied her knot with Roger Cawley in 1975; she is the only mother to have won the Wimbledon title. She gave birth to her daughter in 1977 and won the 1980 Wimbledon title.

Post 1980, Goolagong’s performance started fading. She reached four consecutive U.S. Open finals and lost all of them. She returned in 1983 to play her last Grand Slam singles tournament but unfortunately, she lost to Chris Evert.

2012 US Open - Day 5

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 31: Kim Clijsters of Belgium reacts during a first round mixed doubles match with her partner Bob Bryan of the United States against Irina Falconi of the United States and Steve Johnson of the United States on Day Five of the 2012 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 31, 2012 in the Flushing neigborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Kim Clijsters — Clijsters turned professional in 1999, former number 1 in WTA rankings, though she didn’t win any grand slams until 2005 when she defeated Mary Pierce and won the US Open title.

She has won a total of 4 single grand slam titles and 2 doubles titles in her career span of 14 years. Clijsters got engaged to the Australian favourite Lleyton Hewitt in December 2003. Although, their union didn’t even last a year and ended in October 2004.

Clijsters got married to Brian Lynch in July, 2007. She announced her retirement in 2007 to start a family, but she made a comeback in 2009 and won the US Open defeating Caroline Wozniacki 7-5, 6-3. She announced her comeback in a press conference while she was preparing for the exhibition match alongwith Tim Henman, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi at Wimbledon.

Clijsters again won the US Open in 2010 and Australian Open in 2011 defeating Vera Zvonareva and Li Na respectably. This was her last grand slam win.

Her last tournament was the US Open in 2012 in which she was ousted in the 2nd round by Laura Robson, 6-7, 6-7.

Kim Clijsters retired gracefully with a win over Venus Williams in her farewell exhibition match at Antwerp Sports Palace in Belgium, although she had officially retired on 2nd September, 2012.

Justine Henin — Justine Henin known for her extra-ordinary talent turned pro in 1999. She won seven Grand Slam singles titles. She is widely known for her powered one-handed backhand and footwork. Players like Andre Agassi have remarked her as one of the most talented woman player ever.

On 16 November 2002, Henin married Pierre-Yves Hardenne. After marriage she continuously won Grand Slams tournaments. Whereas, before marriage; she could only reach Wimbledon finals in 2001. She won her first French Open Grand Slam in 2003 defeating Kim Clijsters—6-0, 6-4.

In 2007, Henin withdrew from Australian Open due to her personal issues. Weeks later, she confirmed that she is officially separated from her husband. Later that year, she won last Grand Slam title; U.S. Open 2007 overpowering Svetlana Kuznetsova—6-1, 6-3.

Henin retired from WTA in 2008. John McEnroe said Henin is “the player I most like to watch.” She made a comeback in WTA in 2010, losing in the final of Australian Open.

On January 26, 2011, Henin announced her retirement from professional tennis because of an elbow injury.

Lindsay Davenport – Davenport entered the professional arena in 1991, although her official professional career is said to have begun in 1993. She has won three Grand Slams singles titles and an Olympic gold medal in singles.

She has been year-end number 1 at least four times in the year; 1998, 2001, 2004, 2005. Davenport is known for two-handed backhand, ground-strokes and serve, which is often considered perfect.

Davenport married Jonathan Leach in 2003. All the three grand slams she won  before this. She took a break from professional tennis 3 years after her marriage in late 2006, to give birth to her child and didn’t return to the circuit till late 2007. Prior that year, she had become the eight women in WTA history to win 700 singles match.

Davenport got pregnant with her third child in late 2011 and announced a break from competitive tennis.


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