Chris Evert ‘excited’ about the prospect of a WTA ‘big three’
Chris Evert has expressed her excitement for the potential of a ‘big three’ in women’s tennis, with the former No.1 comparing Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina to Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.
Evert spoke about her worry for women’s tennis when 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams retired, but explained that her doubts have faded with the emergence of three upcoming WTA stars.
“What I’m excited about as we get into talking about the women’s game is that there are three players now that could be the Federer, Nadal and Djokovic of women’s tennis, and we know who they are: Iga, Aryna and Elena,” said Evert.
She continued, “I see a rivalry with those three that could be very interesting. We thought when Serena retired, ‘oh, my gosh, women’s tennis is in trouble, and where’s the next champion going to come from?’ I think we’re looking at where the next champion is going to come from – if not three great champions.”
Swiatek, Sabalenka and Rybakina currently hold all four of the Grand Slam titles, with Sabalenka winning the most recent at the Australian Open.
World No.1 Swiatek was dominant in 2022 winning eight WTA titles, including Roland Garros and the US Open, and had a winning streak of 37 matches.
However, the Pole has not been as commanding this season being beaten twice by Wimbledon and Indian Wells champion Rybakina.
The WTA ‘big three’ head-to-head
Iga Swiatek vs Aryna Sabalenka: 4-2
Last meeting (2022) – Sabalenka beat Swiatek, 6-2 2-6 6-1 (WTA Finals semi-final)
Iga Swiatek vs Elena Rybakina: 1-2
Last meeting (2023) – Rybakina beat Swiatek, 6-2 6-2 (Indian Wells semi-final)
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elena Rybakina: 4-1
Last meeting (2023) – Rybakina beat Sabalenka, 7-6(11) 6-4 (Indian Wells final)
Always a treat seeing these two compete 💙 🏆 pic.twitter.com/u3F88ER0lk
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) March 19, 2023
Evert spoke about Rybakina and Sabalenka individually, as they look to challenge the No.1 Swiatek throughout the rest of the year.
“I don’t think her [Rybakina] personality was one that she took advantage of after winning Wimbledon to the extent that other players have in the past with appearances and magazine covers and endorsements and being on talk shows,” said Evert.
“I think she lives a very quiet life and she is very happy that way. She doesn’t want to get out of her bubble. That’s her prerogative.”
The 18-time major champion added, “With her personality, I think that she doesn’t demand attention, and that is why you don’t see her out there like you saw maybe Emma Raducanu or you saw other players after they have won majors.”
Turning her attention to Sabalenka, Evert said, “I think that Aryna got the monkey off her back, so to speak, when she won the Australian Open because she came so close so many times – not only to win a major but also against top players.”
“Having the yips with her serve last year, she had a lot of disappointments in her career up until the Australian Open. I think that gave her more confidence.”
The American tennis legend revealed that she has even watched Sabalenka practicing at her academy in Boca Raton, Florida.
“Before some of the tournaments, she has been practising at the Evert Academy with her coach, and I see the work that she puts in. That is all I’m going to say. She has a lot of talent, but she puts in the hours as well,” revealed Evert.
Sabalenka and Rybakina will look to battle it out again as they challenge for their first Miami Open title, with Swiatek withdrawing from the event due to a rib injury.
If Rybakina is to win the title in Florida she will join Swiatek in becoming only the fifth woman to win both Indian Wells and the Miami Open in the same year.
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