Sal Veder/Associated Press
French Open matches: five
The five French Open matches between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova over a 13-year period helped define their rivalry, which was unsurpassed in the Open era.
Not only did their contrasting styles and demeanors create an intriguing matchup for viewers, but the friendship they developed that continues today gives their rivalry an enduring quality. Add the fact that Navratilova and Evert rank as the second and fourth greatest female players in history, respectively, according to a Tennis Channel panel of experts, and their rivalry is unmatched.
It is a testament to the longevity of their rivalry and dominance that their first Grand Slam meeting came in the 1975 French Open finals, when Evert was 20 and Navratilova 18, and their final French Open matchup came in the 1987 semifinals, when Evert was 32 and Navratilova 30.
Evert won three of their five French Open matches, all but one of which came in the finals. Three of the matches went three sets, and Evert won all three of those. Two of them were one-sided affairs, and Navratilova won both of those.
After Evert won the 1975 encounter, 2-6, 6-2, 6-1, they did not meet again at Roland Garros for nine years. That's largely because Navratilova did not play the French Open the next five years, and Evert did not play the event the next three years. You can only guess how many more times they might have played in the French Open had they participated in those prime years.
They met again in 1984, the first of four consecutive years of playing each other at Roland Garros. Navratilova won the 1984 finals 6-3, 6-1, and that seemed to cement the notion that Evert could no longer compete with Navratilova, even on Evert's favorite surface.
However, Evert experienced a resurgence and beat Navratilova in the French Open finals in 1985 and 1986, both in three sets, before Navratilova won their final French Open encounter in the 1987 semifinals, 6-2, 6-2.
The 1985 finals is the one that sticks in many minds, which is why Bleacher Report recently ranked it No. 4 on its list of most memorable French Open matches in history.
That match was the 65th and best of the 80 matches Evert and Navratilova would play against each other. As described in an excerpt from Johnette Howard's book The Rivals: Chris Evert Vs. Martina Navratilova: Their Epic Duels and Extraordinary Friendship, "The match they played was dazzling, not for its perfection necessarily but more for the stomach-gnawing tension and the stirring determination they displayed."
Navratilova rallied from down 2-4, 0-40 in the second set to force a third.
In the deciding set, Evert let a 5-3 lead slip away. Navratilova tied it 5-5 and, with momentum on her side, had an 0-40 lead on Evert's serve in the 11th game. Evert came back to hold serve, then broke Navratilova's serve in the 12th game to finish off a 6-3, 6-7, 7-5 victory.
Evert was 3-1 against Navratilova in French Open finals, but only 1-9 against Navratilova in the finals of other Grand Slam events.