Tennis legend Chris Evert is opening up about his cancer diagnosis and why her success as an athlete has left her “entitled” to her personal relationships.
In a new interview with CBS Sunday morningthe 67-year-old sports star explained how finding “fame at a young age” affected his sense of self and ultimately his relationships.
“I believe there’s a price to pay – there’s a price to pay for almost everything in life,” Evert told reporter Tracy Smith.
Like a teenage tennis sensation who was just 17 when she appeared on the cover of Time, Evert “didn’t have the freedom to develop the authentic ‘I’ at a young age.” That meant missing out on experiences like college and being treated differently from your peers.
“I think people always hear ‘you’re the best’ and pat themselves on the back, and people can’t say ‘no’ to them,” she continued. “I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a ticket in my life because the cops stopped me so many times and they saw that I’m Chris Evert, and they said, ‘I’m a big fan of yours, I.’ I’m going to let you go. And I think when that it happens [for] years and years and years and years, I think you become a little skilled and a little skilled, and I’m the first to admit that.
“I feel like it affected my relationships with people and with my marriages,” she admitted. “You pay a price.”
After a broken engagement to two-time Wimbledon champion Jimmy Connors that ended in 1975, Evert married British tennis player John Lloyd in 1979. The couple divorced in 1987, and the following year she married skier Andy Mill, with with whom she had three children before splitting in 2006. Evert found love with golfer Greg Norman in 2008, but the sports stars’ marriage lasted just over a year.
In January, Evert revealed that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer; after completing chemotherapy in May, she is now cancer-free. The six-time US Open winner credits her late sister Jeanne Evert, who also played tennis professionally, for saving her life. After Chris noticed her athletic sister struggling to catch her breath as they raced through an airport six years ago, Jeanne was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Doctors discovered that Jeanne, who died in 2020, had the BRCA gene mutation. which carries an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, a finding that prompted Chris to get tested. She was also found to have the BRCA gene mutation. Evert chose to undergo a hysterectomy as a precaution.
“I had a total hysterectomy with everything out,” Evert shared. “And my doctors considered preventive surgery… All of a sudden, five days later, I get a call from my doctor and he says, ‘Chrissy, I’m in shock as much as you’re going to be. in shock. You had cancer of the fallopian tubes and ovaries. So I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to go in for more surgery. Ten days later, after healing, I went again for another surgery. And it was the longest three or four days of my life, because it was a matter of whether I was stage 1 or stage 3 or even stage 4.”
Evert was “wrapped up” as she waited to learn more, knowing from her sister’s experience that “this was a serious cancer”.
“I saw Jeanne go through it. I saw the needles and the pain and the agony she had to go through. [endure]. The chemotherapies, and endless being in the hospital. … She was 80 pounds. when she passed away. It was a horrible, horrible experience for her, and watching her go through it.”
Speaking with Smith, Evert was thrilled to tell her sister praying for help. Fortunately, her doctor’s news was promising: “You’re fine-but you have to go through chemotherapy.” Six sessions later, Evert moved on with her life, always aware that her prognosis would have been much worse if she had waited a few months to get tested.
“My sister saved my life,” she says.
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