The World Atlas ranked France as the 2nd oldest country in the world (founded in 486AD). After the fall of the Roman Empire around 400AD, the Franks, one of the Germanic tribes, moved to France and gave France its name. The most famous of all Frankish kings was Charlemagne (Charles the Great), son of Pepin the Short. Paris, capital of the French republic, also the capital of couture, played host every year to the clay court tennis Grand Slam event. The French Open celebrated its centennial in 1991. It was reported not until 1925 that foreign players were allowed to compete at the French championships.
Tennis was described as a game of errors, "Even in pro tennis, errors outnumber placements 10 to 1." Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert had played 80 times, between 1973 and 1988, the longest rivalry in open tennis history. Chris had said, "I was coasting along in the late 1970s, and then Martina came along...If it weren't for Navratilova, I'd still (in 1984) be dominating tennis. There is a big gap between No. 1 and No. 2, but there's also a big gap between No. 2 and No. 3….She was an inspiration...I think I influenced Martina to develop her groundstrokes. And she's pushing me to work on my serve and volleys...I used to get out of shape at times. I was doing things to become a better player, but had to do things to become a better athlete."
Steve Aschburner of the Milwaukee Journal made the observation in 1981, "Admittedly, Chris Evert is one of the sport's greatest champions, male or female...And she spawned a generation of 2-handed teeny-boppers grimly patrolling the baselines of the women's game. The result was interminable rallies and a product far less entertaining than the men's, since the women all seemed to be played not to lose, rather than to win." In 1984, Vitas Gerulaitis embroiled in controversy when the press asked him to compare the men's and women's game. His reply: "95% of the women can't play tennis." On reflection, Chris reasoned, "I don't think the men see enough of the women play…(However) there are so many college players who could beat the top women, even men over 40 could beat us. My brother (John) beats me, and he isn't even ranked."
In 1985, Chris defeated Martina to win the French Open women's singles championship, in a match many regarded "to be one of the best ever in women's tennis." Martina recalled, "It was probably the most suspenseful match Chris and I have ever played." Chris added, "The match boiled down to 2 shots – the last 2 points, because at 6-5, deuce, the match was even. It was definitely one of the closest, the most dramatic and the most suspenseful matches we've ever played."
Chris had made the point, "For 3 or 4 years (1982-84) I've lost really so many matches to Martina that now (1986) it's become a mental thing when I get into a 3-set match. I'm losing most of the 3-set matches we have, so that just shows me that it's the belief. So I have to change my way of thinking a little bit." In 1985, Chris tied with Bjorn Borg and Suzanne Lenglen for the most singles titles won (until that time) at the French Open. Martina mentioned after the match, "The (weather) conditions didn't help. Chris was able to do a lot with her lobs, and I wasn't able to go very close to the lines with my topspin because I never knew what the ball would do. It (the wind) was an equalizer."
"The (1984) U.S. Open, I think, really showed me something," Chris confessed. "When it came down to a few big points, I lacked the nerve...It was uncharacteristic. Chris Evert never choked a match. She would always come from behind. I wanted it so badly that I got nervous. My emotions entered into it." In February 1984, Chris played Martina in an 85-minute match for the title at the U.S. Women's National Indoor Tennis Championships at the Four Seasons Racquet Club in East Hanover, New Jersey. She noted after the match, "I wasn't discouraged. I was able to fight back from a 1-4 deficit in the second set. Last year (1983) if I was down by the score of 6-2, 4-1, I would have felt out of the match...When the chips are down, she (Martina) came through with some great serving. Martina just played the big points better." At an exhibition match played under the lights at the Rancho Bernardo Inn in California also in 1984, Chris defeated Martina. Martina remembered, "I had a bit of problem seeing the ball. My game is to go to the net, but when Chris lobbed over me I didn't follow the ball too well." Chris voiced, "It was dark up there, so when in doubt, I threw up a lob."