Chris Evert: Martina Navratilova is definitely one of my closest friends right now

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Chris Evert: Martina Navratilova is definitely one of my closest friends right now

Chris Evert says Martina Navratilova remains one of her closest friends today and recalled their journey from being rivals to doubles partners to close friends in an interview with The Associated Press.

Chris Evert on her rivalry and friendship with Martina Navratilova

In the interview, Evert spoke about their relationship during their playing days.

"In the beginning, I was beating her; I was practicing with her; we were playing doubles together. Then she started beating me, and I broke up the doubles, because I felt like I was getting too close. We went our own ways.

When she was coached by Nancy Lieberman, and Nancy was teaching her to hate her opponent, we weren't getting along then. It really wasn't until the end of our careers, maybe the last five years, that we got along well.

Fed Cups brought us together. We became pretty close -- as close as two top competitors could become." In their retirement, the two have remained connected through their commentary work on tennis and their close friendship off the court.

"My sister passed away in February, and Martina was there the whole day. She was at the funeral. She was there for the burial. She was at the house for food and stayed until 10 p.m. She and Pam Shriver were the only two players there.

Martina is definitely one of my closest friends right now. We have no competition. There's no tension in our relationship whatsoever. It's a freeing kind of a feeling. I can really enjoy her and her personality now and she can really enjoy me."

The rivalry between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova is considered to be one of the greatest in women's tennis history and sports in general. In total, from 1973 to 1988 they played a record 80 times, including 60 tournament finals against one another.

Navratilova led their head-to-head 43-37 overall - and 36–24 in all finals. Navratilova led Evert 10–5 on grass; 9–7 on outdoor hard courts; and 21–14 indoors while Evert led Navratilova 11–3 on clay.

Both players ended with 18 Grand Slam singles titles in their career, although Navratilova did also accomplish a record-setting doubles career as well. Evert won 32 doubles titles in her career, 3 of those coming at the Grand Slams - two of them with Martina. Navratilova won 31 major women's doubles titles and 177 doubles titles overall in her career.