The Evert Dynasty in Tennis May Have Produced a New Child Queen—Clare, 8
Evert & Co., one of the most awesome assembly lines in the history of U.S. sport, is about ready to roll out its newest model: the Clare. Papa Jimmy Evert’s best-known product to date is 21-year-old Chris, who has won virtually every tournament in the world open to women. Another daughter, Jeanne, 19, is the 15th-ranked women’s player in the U.S.; son Drew, 23, gave up a moderately distinguished amateur career to become an assistant tennis coach at Auburn University; and 15-year-old John is ranked among the top 25 in his age group nationally. And now there is Clare, who smashes two-fisted backhands like her big sisters and who seems to have the style of a budding champion.
“It’s a bit too early to tell,” says Jimmy Evert. “I never make predictions about 8-year-olds.” Yet while Chris was winning her second U.S. Open title at Forest Hills, Clare was running off with a couple of age-group championships at her home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “She was so thrilled about winning, we couldn’t separate her from one trophy,” says Colette Evert, her mother. “She even took it to bed.”
Like Chris, Clare is a baseline wizard. Last week, rallying with her father-coach, she returned 437 consecutive balls before hitting one into the net. “I was never able to do that,” says the astonished Chris.
The success of Chris, who didn’t fully blossom as a world-class player until she was 16, has influenced her little sister. “Until a year or so ago Clare was just playing tennis for fun,” says a family friend. “Then one day she was thumbing through Chris’s scrapbook and discovered she could have a pretty exciting career as a pro tennis player. Now that’s her goal. Of all the Evert women, little Clare is the most assertive—she’s like Shirley Temple.”
Each day after school Clare spends two and a half hours polishing the strokes she learned from her father, who is public courts professional in Fort Lauderdale. On weekends she practices five hours a day. Nonetheless, she is a good fourth-grade student and a passable guitarist.
Like Chris, she has attracted a fair number of male followers, albeit on a more diminutive scale. One recent afternoon Clare returned home all a-flutter. “What’s the matter?” said Chris. “Well,” giggled Clare, “it’s my first crush.” “What’s his name?” Chris asked. “Oh, I can’t tell you,” Clare blushed. “I haven’t even talked to him yet.”