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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 January 2007
This is a very well-written account not just of the extraordinary lives of Navratilova and Evert, but of the great changes happening in professional tennis in the 1970's. Martina's story is more exciting and turbulent - her defection during the Cold War, discovery of her homosexuality when society was less tolerant, and her physical transformation to maximise her natural talent. Chrissie's story is more of a coming of age, she started out as a naive 16-year-old phenom who grew up on the tour. The book emphasizes her legendary mental toughness, she had early success and had to change her game in response to the arrival of Austin and Navratilova. But the book also talks about their personal lives, the relationships they've had, their emotional strengths and weaknesses. What I enjoyed most are the background stories, Billie Jean King's fight for a women's tour, the camarederie that existed among players back then, Howard tells these stories so well and it sounds like an amazing atmosphere to have been part of. In a way it was the golden age of tennis, the game has changed so much (more money, more competitive players with their own entourages and seem more isolated from each other) that I cannot imagine that atmosphere being possible today. Overall, a very enjoyable read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A well written account of the rivalry and friendship between these giants of 70s/80s tennis. It brings both subjects across as three dimensional human beings, not the stereotypical images that were linked to both of them for so long. The author has some interesting and quite shocking things to say about male attitudes towards the early Open era women's tennis tour as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2008
This book is the story of the two players who dominated the ladies' game as it emerged from its humble origins to become the world's richest female sport.
The contrasts between them existed on so many levels - their origins, their style of play, their on-court demeanour, their love lives - that the rivalry could have hardly been better scripted to have grabbed the public's attention.
All this is superbly brought to life by the author's crisp prose which is chock-a-block with insider tales and quotes from those who were really there.
This is an essential volume for tennis fans with much to enjoy for the general reader too.
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on 14 June 2012
For all the talk of greatest tennis rivalries in the professional era - Borg/McEnroe, Edberg/Lendl, Graf/Seles, Agassi/Sampras and Federer/Nadal - for my money, there is only one contender: the amazing rivalry between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

All the basic ingredients for a great head-to-head provide a good foundation for this book - vastly different upbringings, different playing styles, different public opinions - but as author Johnette Howard conveys, there is a lot more to take in regarding these two seminal tennis icons.

Howard describes Evert's merciless advance to the top of the women's game from a very young age; and in parallel, takes the reader through the hell Navratilova was enduring in communist-ruled Czechoslovakia, and her subsequent defection to the USA. By the time one is halfway through the book, it is quite amazing to think how Navratilova could even concentrate on tennis, bearing in mind the complete turmoil of her personal life - far less become such a dominant player. Howard also charts, in a truly engaging fashion, how Evert and Navratilova perceived each other on the court, and how these perceptions changed over time.

A book about these players, who shared one of the longest rivalries in tennis, will have no end of riches to draw from (with them having played 80 matches, and amazingly, the split is close to even). Howard does a great job in highlighting the salient periods, when dominance shifted from one to the other, and some of the most amazing fightbacks in tennis between the two.

The focus on both players is set within the shift of the women's game during the late 70s/early 80s, and as a separate arc, the book charts the rise of Evert/Navratilova alongside the fight from Billie Jean King et al to put women's tennis on a more equal footing with the men's game. Howard's discussion on how Evert and Navratilova sometimes aided, and sometimes hindered this movement is of significant importance and great interest.

If I have a slight qualm it is that Navratilova gets more focus than Evert, both in terms of personal life and major career finals; but then that does stand to reason. Overall, this is an excellent read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2006
I only caught the end of the Navratilova-Evert rivalry, by which time it was definitely Martina who was out ahead but it was fascinating to read the full story. It is pretty amazing to think how many times, particularly in finals, they faced each other. Especially in such a tough mental sport like tennis, it's impressive that they remain friends. Where have rivalries like this gone? It makes me wonder whether the Seles-Graf rivalry could have been a smaller version of this if it wasn't for the stabbing incident.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 25 July 2005
Tremendous read. If names like Borg, McEnroe, Connors, Vitus Gerulaitus and, er, Betty Stove still mean anything to you, just the tennis angle would be enough - great stories from the days when sports people still came with personalities fitted as standard. But add to that the emancipation of the women's game from which the protagonists benefitted (and the heroic efforts of Billie Jean King in particular), gay liberation (amazing to remember how constrained we were only 30 years ago), politics, the Cold War and Navratilova's defection, and the story becomes completely compelling. None of this obscures the core story however, which is the contrast in styles, attitudes and fortunes of Evert and Navratilova... both emerge as admirable but in contrasting and unexpected ways. Read it in a day (on holiday admittedly)... highly recommended.
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on 17 August 2015
Brilliant book about the greatest ever rivalry in any sport. Chris Evert has always been my favourite tennis player (in the men's game it was to become Roger Federer, both the classiest sports people the game has seen). She was the first player I ever saw on TV which I believe was Wimbledon 1973, and I was hooked like the rest of the world. I admired Martina Navratilova as a player but just could not warm to her which is ironical considering it was Chrissie who was referred to as the "Ice Maiden", whereas Martina was seen as the fiery one. This book describes their rivalry but tells of their enduring friendship too.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
well, what a book. a full insight into chris and martina's tennis career's. once opened, i had to continue reading untill the last page and felt that i had played there matches with them.
the story of martina's defection was very moving and showed another side to this extrodinary woman.
as for chrissie, this lady is no "ice maiden" but a true champion of the sport of tennis .
both women should be very proud of there achievments on and off the court.
great writing and a great read, highly reccomended to any follower of the game of tennis.
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on 19 June 2012
Fascinating story not just of the rivalry and friendship between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, but of the whole evolution of the professional women's game, best book I've read on tennis. Highly recommended.
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on 25 May 2014
This book is just fabulous...remembering the ladies and their careers, the good sportsmanship and friendship between them as well as the desire of both to win...very readable
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