Tennis great Chris Evert, who joined ESPN at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, has signed a four-year deal to work all four of tennis’ majors and other events. One of the most accomplished players in history, she also recently worked the Australian Open, including the women’s final, on ESPN2. That event completed her “tennis TV Grand Slam,” fitting for someone who won a “career Grand Slam” on the court. Her next assignment for ESPN will be the French Open – a title she won a record seven times.
Evert won 18 major singles championships, including at least one each year for 13 consecutive years (1974-1986). In addition to her seven wins in Paris, she took home a record six US Opens, plus three Wimbledon championships and two at the Australian Open. She retired in 1989 with 157 singles titles overall, and a career win-loss record of 1,309-146 (.900), the best of any professional player in history.
“Last year we quickly discovered what Chris brings to our telecasts – the perspective of having been at the sport’s pinnacle, keen knowledge of the game today and a personality that sparkles with both candor and humor,” said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, production. “She instantly fit well into our hard-working team and it’s appropriate a champion of all the Grand Slam events will work all four for us.”
Evert said, “Everyone from ESPN – from the commentators to the production staff – made me feel part of the family from day one. I couldn’t ask for a more helpful or engaging group of people to team with. The Grand Slams were such an important part of my life, and I am excited to be going back to them. I look forward to expressing the emotions, as well as the strategies, that the current players are feeling at these special events.”
Evert burst upon the national tennis scene at the age of 15, and a year later made the 1971 US Open semifinals in her first Grand Slam Event. She was voted the AP Female Athlete of the Year four times and in 1985 was voted the Greatest Woman Athlete of the Last 25 Years by the Women’s Sports Foundation. She was a unanimous selection to the Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995. In the past, she has worked as an analyst for NBC.
ESPN – All Four Slams, All In One Place
Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air and provided many memorable moments, but it has never been as important as today, with the US Open joining the lineup in 2009, giving ESPN all four Grand Slam events, something no other U.S. network had ever done, let alone in one year. ESPN has presented the Australian Open since 1984, the French Open since 2002 (plus 1986 – 1993), and Wimbledon since 2003, with exclusivity for live television with all other rights extended added in a 12-year agreement starting in 2012.
ESPN debuted September 7, 1979, and the first tennis telecast was exactly one week later, September 14, a Davis Cup tie, Argentina at U.S. from Memphis with Cliff Drysdale on the call and John McEnroe playing.
In addition, broadband network ESPN3, now in nearly 70 million homes, carries thousands of hours of tennis annually, including all four Grand Slam events, plus ATP 1000 and 500 tournaments and WTA Premier Events, and season-ending championships for both tours. Also, ESPN Classic shows great matches from the past and the sport receives extensive coverage on SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, Spanish-language ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. ESPN 3D aired its first tennis at Wimbledon in 2011.