Chris Evert is much happier as a sportscaster than she used to be.
The winner of singles titles in three Wimbledons, six U.S. Opens, seven French Opens and two Australian Opens is nearing the third year of her ESPN deal as a Grand Slam tennis commentator. Shortly after retiring from the game, she joined NBC Sports in a similar role, but she admits it took more distance from her days of competing to get comfortable with her TV job.
“I may not be the sharpest tool in the box,” Evert muses to Zap2it, “but I know what I see in a match. And I know I’m instinctively pretty spot-on when it comes to strategy and what’s actually happening on the court, what the players are trying to achieve and what their styles are. That’s my contribution, trying to share something maybe before it happens, or telling viewers something they can’t see.”
Evert doesn’t hesitate to analyze herself, either. She reflects that during her NBC tenure, “I don’t think I did a very good job, one of the reasons being that I was too close to the game and I knew the girls too well. I didn’t want to say certain things about Martina [Navratilova] because she was my friend.
“Now, three generations later, I’m talking about Serena [Williams] and Maria Sharapova and I can have a different approach. I can be more honest and the emotion isn’t as involved as much, because I’m really not as close to these girls. And I think I can be more informational and articulate as a result.”
These days, Evert also is dabbling in acting by playing … Chris Evert. She appears in a tennis-themed episode of CBS’ “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” Wednesday, Jan, 23, inspired to do so largely because she’s friends with series star Elisabeth Shue — who, in her weekly role as Julie Finlay, “interrogates” Evert about a murder.
Fellow tennis veterans Lindsay Davenport and Justin Gimelstob also play themselves in the story, but Evert feels she had an edge by already being so familiar with Shue, whom she cites as being quite a tennis player herself. “It was just a matter of being natural,” Evert says. “She made it easy for me.”