Former tennis star Chris Evert might have been known as the “The Ice Maiden,” on the court, but apparently she displays that inferred trait also in the commentator’s booth. During the 2022 U.S. Open, Twitter users have been pointing out what they view as biased commentary toward Coco Gauff.
Journalist Chuck Modi set it off on Evert on Twitter with eyebrow-raising perspectives on Evert’s in-game broadcasting.
Chris Evert is as bad at calling game for Coco Gauff as she is Serena. Coco makes great shot. Silence. Coco makes mistake. She dwells on it. This is not hypersensitivity. This can be quantified across the whole match.
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) September 7, 2022
“Chris Evert is as bad at calling game for Coco Gauff as she is Serena,” Modi tweeted. “Coco makes great shot. Silence. Coco makes mistake. She dwells on it. This is not hypersensitivity. This can be quantified across the whole match.”
On Tuesday, Coco Gauff’s rise up the U.S. Open ranks was stopped by Caroline Garcia in the quarterfinals. Commentator Evert sidestepped every good thing she did but highlighted every point of contention for her performance. The 18-year-old Gauff was unbothered.
Here’s prime example of Chris Evert on Coco Gauff over 2 uncut minutes:
1—Coco amazing backhand: silence
2—Coco ace: silence
Garcia psyched Coco out
4—Coco ace to win game? Silence.
NOT isolated. This is a pattern. pic.twitter.com/NAFNrFmj8H
— ChuckModi (@ChuckModi1) September 7, 2022
“First quarterfinal too, at the U.S. Open, and so there’s a lot to be proud of. But like I said, definitely disappointed, but I think it makes me want to work even harder and I feel like I know what I have to do.”
For many, Evert has displayed her bias beginning with the ascension of Serena Williams. In 2006, she wrote a letter to her in Tennis Magazine, and the commentary was quite revealing.
Chris Evert’s attitude towards Serena Williams has been going on for a long time. Check out this letter she wrote to Serena in 2006. https://t.co/DccdUZMQdU
— urban myths, legends (@urbanmyths) September 7, 2022
“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.”
Serena Williams’s 2006 tennis season was derailed by injury, allowing her to only play in four tournaments and be outside of the top 100 for the first time in her career since 1997. The year prior, she won the 2005 Australian Open by defeating Amélie Mauresmo and Lindsay Davenport, becoming the only player in tennis history to win three Grand Slam singles titles by beating the top two ranked players.
Hey @espn, absolutely NO ONE wants to hear Chris Evert comment on another one of Serena’s matches. Let us enjoy Serena’s last tournament without having to listen to someone who is plainly rooting for her to lose. #USOpen
— Lena Wilson’s natural talent (@narrowhead13) September 1, 2022
“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,” Evert’s letter continued. “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.”
— Brittney Cooper (@ProfessorCrunk) September 1, 2022
Like many other former players and commentators not of the culture, they scratch their heads at the athlete-businessperson. They want the singularly focused athlete who follows a blueprint from a time when the world was as opportune as it is now. The internet, athlete-led corporate campaigning, and access to fans directly through social media have changed the game. From LeBron James to Serena Williams, the fearless multi-disciplinary athlete is still an enigma to some and, when wrapped in chocolate, downright offensive.
Chris Evert is displaying a pattern towards Black women in tennis but is it just racial, or that she has a bone to pick with an overall culture that has left her back in her era? Regardless, she has the mic, and people are listening.
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