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Chris Evert Takes on Serena Williams

Serena Williams had better come out of tennis hiding soon or there will be no one left in the tennis establishment to defend her. 

The latest to turn on her is Chris Evert who has written an open letter to Serena in the May issue of Tennis Magazine "advising" her to rethink what she's doing with her tennis career.

From Tennis Magazine:

Dear Serena,

I’ve been thinking about your career, and something is troubling me. I appreciate that becoming a well-rounded person is important to you, as you’ve made that desire very clear. Still, a question lingers—do you ever consider your place in history? Is it something you care about? In the short term you may be happy with the various things going on in your life, but I wonder whether 20 years from now you might reflect on your career and regret not putting 100 percent of yourself into tennis. Because whether you want to admit it or not, these distractions are tarnishing your legacy.

Just a couple of years ago, when you were fully committed to the game, you showed the athleticism, shot-making, and competitive desire to become the greatest player ever. Many besides myself shared the same sentiment. You won five of the six Grand Slams you entered over the 2002 and 2003 seasons and looked utterly dominant in the process. Then you got sidetracked with injuries, pet projects, and indifference and have won only one major in the last seven you’ve played. I find those results hard to fathom. You’re simply too good not to be winning two Grand Slam titles a year. You’re still only 24, well within your prime. These are crucial years that you’ll never get back. Why not dedicate yourself entirely for the next five years and see what you can achieve?

Perhaps the reason I feel so strongly about this is because I wasn’t blessed with the physical gifts you possess. I know that the lifespan of an athlete’s greatness is brief and should be exploited. Once you get to No. 1 in the world and start winning major titles, you should see how far you can take it. You’ve become very good at many things, but how many people would trade that to be great at just one thing? I don’t see how acting and designing clothes can compare with the pride of being the best tennis player in the world. Your other accomplishments just can’t measure up to what you can do with a racquet in your hand.

Ironically, I believe that if you fulfill your potential on the tennis court, all your other endeavors will become that much easier to pursue. You could become the most famous athlete in the world. Every magazine will want you on its cover and any door you wish to walk through will be wide open. When I was playing, I always knew there would be time to get married, have children, do TV commentating, and even coach if I wanted. I assure you there will be time for you to chase all your dreams once you’re through with tennis.

I offer this only as advice, not criticism, from someone with experience. If you’re completely happy with the way your life is, then crumple up this letter and throw it away. I wish you nothing but luck and success in all your pursuits. Just remember that you have in front of you an opportunity of the rarest kind—to become the greatest ever at something.

I hope you make the most of it.



GO CHRISSY....it's about time someone tried to slap some sense into today's players, who are more interested in becoming commodities than elite tennis players. Evert is well on point about the differences in natural talent and what a waste BOTH Williams sisters are making of their natural gift. But, I have always thought that a great champion is made of more than just statistics or a great game. Heart is a big factor in considering "the greatest" of anything. In that regard, I feel that neither Williams will ever measure up.

Posted by: Richard | Mar 29, 2006 4:55:19 PM

I agree with you Richard. The window of opportunity is closing fast on Serena. She's only 24 and she's out of shape (pudgy) and burned out. If she continues to let herself go she may not be able to make it back. Hingis kept herself in good shape and will never experience the genetic weight problem that Serena is probably in for. Once you let yourself go it is 10 times harder to get it back! She is really going to have to want it badly and, like Richard, I do not see that desire in her right now.

Posted by: Spud Dog | Mar 29, 2006 6:13:09 PM

Oohh...cold. Oh yeah, Chris told her...need I say more? Oh, and by the way, Serena, the clock is ticking- 3 years, 2years, 1 year...you'll just never know. Take Chris' advice, PLEASE! FOR THE SAKE OF THE U.S. AND WOMEN"S TENNIS!!!!!

Posted by: Nonymous | Mar 29, 2006 6:39:16 PM

I'm certainly not Serena's biggest fan, however, I would love to see her back competing on tour and in prime shape. Serena, and Venus, raised the athleticism in tennis to a great degree.

Serena is fat, out-of-shape and seems to care less if she ever steps foot on a tennis court again. Her and Venus are too concerned with being BFF's with the skanky Paris Hilton, club-hopping, and hanging out at parties.

If Serena wants to stop playing tennis and focus on her acting career, fashion career, or whatever, I wish she would just say so and stop the nonsense.

I don't expect she'll listen to Evert's advice. The sisters (like most celebrities) surround themselves with sycophants who tell them they're the greatest thing since sliced bread and both honestly believe that they can just step out on court with little practice and still be the the best players on tour.

Posted by: Ally | Mar 29, 2006 9:21:03 PM

Quite impressive that Chris would reach out like this. Serena's window of opportunity IS closing fast. Hopefully she will give some thought to reconsidering her legacy and talent. Injuries can totally take the joy out of competing and buoyed by her awesome acheivements and paychecks it's probably easy for her to lay down the racquet thinking she's 'done enough'. She does have her mom's physiotype rather than her dad's and that added to the mix makes a comeback all the harder, especially to avoid reinjuries. She is so much fun to watch on the court, her athleticism and firey determination are a rare combination. Hope she heeds the call.

Posted by: emeraldglass | Mar 29, 2006 10:44:28 PM

I disagree with Chris.

Doing what you want in your life is more important that "beeing in History" or being the number one in something.

There is in USA a strong culture of being popular, winning and being number one.

But these things are not a value in itself. This philosophy can be good to be competitive and achieve your goals in that things you do.

But your goal should not be being number one. The goal should be to enjoy playing tennis, competing and of course winning. Do you know how bored must be the life of these guys? Agassi came to Madrid and did not see anything, he was all day in the hotel. If you just do not want to play, do not do it. Serena, we are with you. Number one or not.

Posted by: Antonio | Mar 30, 2006 6:02:09 AM

Antonio -

Finally there is someone that is making some sense. Serena enjoys playing tennis, but maybe not as much as others at the moment. You people need to give her a break.

Ally, you have finally said ONE thing that I agre with; if Serena wants to focus on other things, she should just say it so you people will leave her alone!

Screw your "heart" crap.... Someone like Amy Frazier will not go in the books as having a better career than Serena or Venus because she had the "heart"... That is a bunch of bull... You may think that counts, but there is a reason you aren't in charge of things like that Richard.

Venus - 5 Grand Slams (3 Wimbledon titles)
Serena - 7 Grand Slams

I LOVE Lindsay Davenport, but I wouldn't even put her down as having a better career than Venus or Serena...

Venus and Serena have the stats (and they CLEARLY have the heart) to right now be considered one of the best. (You're going to tell me Venus winning Wimbledon last year had no heart!?!?! Or even Serena when she won the Australian last year?!?!)

Like I always say - you people just want something to complain about. It is VERY EASY to sit back adn criticize this person and that person. Maybe when your lives are important enough to talk about, you'll understand how some of these players feel.

The good thing about humans is that they are capable of doing MANY things.... not just one.

Obviously she is not being MADE to do just one thing! If she is being honest with herself she is doing what she wants to now. The point is that she has her entire life to do 'many things' she has very little time for tennis. Evert is trying to point this out and Evert is hoping that Serena will not look back on her life when it is too late and regret her choices.

Heart is a bunch of crap??? An interesting point of view for sure! Frazier has a load of heart but doesn't have Serena's natural abilities or talents. Serena is going by the way of Borg, a great player who QUIT way too soon. How many grand slams could he have won? I guess we (and he) will never know.

Posted by: Spud Dog | Mar 30, 2006 12:29:21 PM

Hey anonymous ( at 7:58.27 AM) words cannot express how grateful I am that you agree with me on ONE thing - I just can't live if I don't have some anonymous poster's approval.

Seriously, you sound like Serena's press agent. Judging by your post and your use of CAPS, you missed Evert's point (and the points of others expressed here) completely.

Nearly all of us think that Venus and Serena are two of the greatest of all time, but when they continually say they are fully committed to tennis when it is clear they are not, they are going to get CALLED on it. Capice?

Go read Evert's piece and Spud Dog's posts again if you still don't get it.

Posted by: Ally | Mar 30, 2006 12:45:01 PM

Right on target Ally!

Posted by: Spud Dog | Mar 30, 2006 2:15:08 PM

I understand what Chris said. It's your spin on things that made no sense. Like I said before, I agree with you that she/they ned to just say that they want to focus on others things if that is what they are going to do.

What I do not agree with is the whole "do tennis now" thing. It -does - not - matter - that - they - COULD - accomplish - more - on - the - tennis - court. I will once again use something from Centerstage (the movie). At the end, the girls mother wanted her to be a GREAT dancer because she (the mother) was not born with great feet. The girl loved to dance, but that was not all she wanted in life. Just because OTHERS think you'll feel regret because they aren't that good, does not mean you should do it... (back to tennis) Just because Serena and Venus are good at tennis, and could accomplish more, that does not mean they should do it... They both are fast, how do we know that they aren't missing out on sooo much being professional runners? Yuo people will never understand how they feel. When Pete stopped playing, how do we know that was the "best" time to stop? Maybe he could have won a few more titles... The thing is, we DON'T know and no one can know.... Venus and Serena have focused on tennis most of their lives...now they want to look at other things... done deal.

Again, I will AGREE that they should say that instead of pretending to comeback to the court. If they come back, great. If they don't, I'll be sad, but I'll know it because they are persuing other things that make them happy. I'm not going to be a selfish fan...

Amen anonymous no name.

Posted by: Shawn | Mar 30, 2006 6:18:18 PM

This is a great discussion! I think our spin on this makes no sense to you because you misinterpret the article we are discussing.

Again, no one is MAKING Serena play tennis. Serena is not a 16 year old. The reality is that she IS doing what she wants to do. No one here is advocating a life of unhappiness for her.

Read the article again, quote:

"I offer this only as advice, not criticism, from someone with experience. If you’re completely happy with the way your life is, then crumple up this letter and throw it away. I wish you nothing but luck and success in all your pursuits. Just remember that you have in front of you an opportunity of the rarest kind—to become the greatest ever at something."

Evert's article is not a criticism. It is advice.

I'm trying to understand your spin on this. If "It -does - not - matter - that - they - COULD - accomplish - more - on - the - tennis - court.", why would she still want to play at all? You seem to believe that she is happy dabbling in her heart's desire whatever that may be. If she plays Wimbledon this year and wins it, does it not matter to her? I think she would be the first to disagree with you!

Serena is at a tennis crossroad in her life. She can either re-dedicate herself to her tennis, get healthy and start kicking ass again (Something you assume she does not want to do). Or she can continue on her recent path (whatever that is). But if she chooses tennis SHE MUST DO IT NOW!!!

Should she do what makes her happy? You bet! Will her recent path lead to continued success in professional tennis? Not likely. Those are the facts. Either way, she is solely responsible for her own happiness. May she always find it.

Posted by: Spud Dog | Mar 30, 2006 7:42:26 PM

I think we are all saying the same now. If Serena is a grown girl, she needs no one to feel so wise to advice her. Anonimous understood what Chris says. Chris has an orgasm when she talks about history. History is important but not so much if you compare to doing what you like in life. "Oh if I had your gift I would..." OK do you think Serena does not know that? It is Serena who has this gift and I guess she knows

Posted by: Antonio | Mar 31, 2006 12:35:17 AM

Antonio, I love you. You are the ONLY person who can comprehend things... Spud, I'm not saying Serena doesn't want it? I'm the one that was fighting for her and Venus having "the heart", remember? YES they want to win titles, but if they don't, it's fine... and you know why? BECAUSE THEY HAVE OTHER INTERESTS! If someone like, I don't know, Frazier, doesn't win, she doesn't really have anything else because tennis is her life.


The fact that Serena and Venus have the talent, does not mean they need to follow your timeline for playing. Agassi is a dinosaur and he is still playing well. If I remember correctly, Serena came off of an injury and made it to the Wimbledon final... THEN, she came off of another injury and won the Aussie Open. SHE knows what she needs to do to win, and CLEARLY by her not doing it, it's because she has other important things going on... simple.

At the end of the day, she can sit back and say "wow, look, I have my 7 grand slam titles... and I've even won all 4... wow!"

Question - are you the type of person that would also say "forego college" if you're a really good 18 year old? It might be hard for you to understand, but people, like James Blake, can have HUGE talent, and decide to do other things first. Some would say "Oh, he missed out on so much.." Well guess what? No one cares... All that matters is that that person is happy... James took time to go to Harvard; Serena is taking some time for other things. Done. Screw what her "legacy could be; her place in the history books..."

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