Navratilova is probably the strongest woman in tennis, stronger even than Court, and she moves deftly, always following her left-handed serves and ground strokes to the net and looking to sock away volleys. Her forehand is lethal, so opponents tend to hit to her backhand, which is erratic. When she is getting her first serve in, it is difficult for her foe not to hit a high return that Navratilova swats with gusto.
In this, her third year on the Slims tour, this style has paid off nicely. She has a U.S. agent, Fred Barman, who has helped line up racket and shoe-endorsement deals for her. Unlike the U.S.S.R.'s Morozova, who forks over all her winnings to her association, Navratilova this year will be allowed to keep 50% of hers. Ten or 20% after expenses goes to the Czechoslovakian tennis association, and the U.S. slurps up another 30% for taxes.
Navratilova earned more korunas on this tour ($96,762.50 worth) than her father will earn in his lifetime, but she is getting sensitive about money questions.
"I really like the United States, but that's one thing I don't like," she says. "Everybody's crazy about money."
While Navratilova was dominating her half of the round-robin competition, beating Heldman, Wade and Schallau, Evert was toying with her opponents each night as boyfriend Connors looked on approvingly from the stands, shouting "Ole!" after especially good shots. She allowed Janet Newberry just one game, Marcie Louie one, Morozova two and, in the Friday-night feature, five to Goolagong. Up till then she and Goolagong were 9-9 lifetime against each other.
After she had beaten Goolagong, Evert telephoned her father/coach in Florida even though it was 2 a.m. there. "The only thing that surprised me was that she didn't come up to the net against me," said Evert. "Last year she came to the net and that's why she beat me."
There is good reason not to come to the net against Evert. Her two-fisted backhand and excellent forehand passing shots leave opponents futilely waving at optic-yellow balls as they whiz by. It seems that Evert's ground strokes land only within a two-foot-wide strip on either side of the court. The rest of the court she doesn't need except when she's serving—a serve, incidentally, that one fellow pro says is "not the marshmallow it was two years ago." On the other hand, fail to rush the net against Evert and it's like playing tennis with a wall. The wall never loses.
Thus the final was a puncher-counter-puncher battle. Navratilova, who always rushes the net, vs. Evert, two years her senior, who is content to stay back at the baseline patiently stroking away, just as she has been doing for the last 14 years.
"I think Chris should win this one," said Wade before the match. "She has the ability to discipline herself, especially since she lost last week. On the other hand, Chris has gotten twitchy playing Martina."
Evert seemed anything but twitchy in the locker room. She was drying her hair with a blower, Navratilova was working on her hair nearby, records were playing, Rosie Casals was showing off her new mongrel dog, Midnight. It might have been the start of a pajama party instead of the beginning of the end of a $150,000 tournament.