By Susan Reed Jane Sanderson Terry Smith
February 20, 1984 12:00 PM

When Chris Evert married tall, handsome British Davis Cupper John Lloyd at St. Anthony Roman Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale five years ago, it seemed a dream match to tennis fans everywhere. She was the world’s top woman player, quiet-spoken and graceful; he was Britain’s best—lean, blond and nicknamed “Flossy” by the British press for his gleaming locks. Admittedly less competitive than his new wife, he pledged support for her career in addition to his vows of love and respect.

After a long struggle to balance marriage and tournament commitments that often found them on opposite sides of the globe, tennis’ golden twosome has split. “There’s still very much a chance that we’ll get back together,” they said in a joint statement. “At the present time, we need time to be by ourselves.”

The announcement confirmed what others on the tennis circuit already knew—that the distance between Chris and John, both 29, could be figured elsewhere than on a map of the world. “The problem has more to do with Chris’ indecision about her life,” said tennis-wear designer Ted Tinling, a close friend. “Chris told me last year that she’s been protected her whole life, by her parents and then by John. She said she wants to spread her wings. I think John began to feel quite lost.”

Other friends suggest that Evert became increasingly restless with the easygoing Briton, complaining occasionally that he spent too much time watching TV. Her frustration mounted as his international ranking plummeted from the top 30 to a low of 356 at the end of 1980. “He saw his role as supporting her,” says a friend, “and she in turn wanted him to play to the best of his ability.”

Though Lloyd tried to salvage the marriage, according to friends, he finally forced a separation over Evert’s continuing liaison with Adam Faith, a British actor and former rock star. Faith, 42, is now a multimillionaire speculator in stocks and real estate who also manages the career of pop singer Leo Sayer. Faith discreetly met Evert in Hong Kong in November 1982, was with her again in Florida last February and yet again, it was rumored, after the Lloyds separated in Los Angeles. “I don’t know if he’s seeing Chrissie,” says Lloyd. “That’s a question for her to answer.”

While Lloyd plays in Davis Cup matches in England, Chris, after a three-month layoff, will open her 1984 season next week at the U.S. Indoor Championships in Livingston, N.J. (Evert is currently ranked second while John has raised his standing to 87.) Scarcely hiding her amusement last week over the antics of British tabloid photographers who have been dogging her since the announcement of the separation, Chris declared, “The scandal sheets have gone berserk. I feel like reminding them that half the couples in America get separated.” Still, she admits her marital problems have affected her game. “My spirits weren’t that high,” she says, “because I was sorting things out in my personal life.” Now she is “optimistic” about her career, if guarded about the future of her marriage. “It still could work out. In my life so far things have always worked out for the best. I’ve always learned from my mistakes.”