As a child, Chris Evert once lied about his father’s profession, calling him a painter rather than admitting that he was a tennis coach.
In an episode of the Design Matters with Debbie Millman podcast, Evert recalled being in the live audience of the Skipper Chuck Show, a popular children’s TV show that aired from 1958 to 1982, when she was asked about her father and his profession.
Jimmy Evert was a professional tennis player who later became a coach, teaching the sport to all five of his children at a tennis center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He has also coached the likes of Brian Gottfried, Harold Solomon, and Jennifer Capriati during his career.
Evert, then five years old, was embarrassed to admit that her father was a tennis coach as all the other kids’ fathers were either doctors or lawyers.
“I did lie. And at that time, my father was a teaching tennis pro and I was embarrassed because all these other kids were saying my dad’s a doctor, my dad’s, a lawyer, you know. So I was embarrassed,” Chris Evert explained.
Instead, the former World No. 1 lied and said that her father was a painter, stating that she still has no idea why she picked that particular profession.
“Okay. Just just put it out there. So I said, he’s a painter. Where did that come from? And I don’t even know if I meant. Did he paint houses, or did he was in artists or what? You Got me? You got me. I was thrown off,” she said.
“I didn’t want to say he was a tennis pro or instructor because there were very few of them in those days and I wanted to be more mainstream. So I said he was a painter. I hope that I hope you’re not saying this at me. Set me up for the rest of my life,” she added.
Her father, who was in the audience along with her, could only laugh at his daughter’s lie.
“He just laughed. I just was very shy at that time and I didn’t like attention and I just didn’t want to be controversial and and different than anybody else. So I just went mainstream with the painter,” Chris Evert said .
“I don’t think he had any choice, he had to earn living” – Chris Evert on why his father took to tennis
Chris Evert believes that her father Jimmy Evert was forced to take up the sport, first as a player and then as a coach, because he had to earn money and survive.
As a youngster, he was a two-time American age-group champion. He even won the 1940 Illinois State High School Championship while playing for Senn High School in Chicago. He later attended the University of Notre Dame on a tennis scholarship and won the men’s singles title at the 1947 Canadian Championships.
Speaking on the same podcast episode, the 18-time Grand Slam champion stated that his father took to the sport of tennis as it offered him a way to earn money and survive in the world.
“I don’t think he had any choice because he played number one for Notre Dame and he also played on the men’s tour. Professional tour and well it was amateur tour in those days but he actually won the Canadian Open. He won the national indoors. He was really starting to make a name for himself,” Chris Evert said.
“He went into the Navy for two years and when he came back he realized that he had to get a job and he had to make money and he had to earn living. You know, it was it was time to be seriously. Get a serious job,” she added.