In 1970, at a North Carolina tournament so small it was barely a blip on the tennis calendar, a Florida teen made her first mark on the sport. Chris Evert, 15, blonde and ponytailed, inexperienced but gutsy as hell, beat the world's top player, Margaret Court, 7-6, 7-6, as Bud Collins recounts in his book, "The Bud Collins History of Tennis."
More Than a Dream
That was the young Chrissie: precocious and never in awe of the moment. A year later, she entered her first Grand Slam event and became the youngest player ever (at the time) to reach the U.S. Open semifinals. Along the way, a stone-faced Evert saved six match points in a second-round tilt against fellow American Mary Ann Eisel, aggressively counterattacking in a come-from-behind, 4-6, 7-6 (5-1), 6-1 victory. The fans in Forest Hills loved the fight packed into Evert's trim, 5-foot-6, 125-pound frame. She was gritty and graceful, brash and beautiful. The "Ice Maiden" melted hearts as America's new sweetheart.