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The brighter of the two older girls, the personable, outgoing one, the more independent and, yes, even the better-looker, Jeanne at 14 also was considered to have more potential as a tennis player. She had wins over Margaret Court and Casals as a child, then suddenly stopped growing at 5'1�" Weight problems ensued and, while Jeanne has struggled along on the tour the past couple of years, the sisters have grown apart.
"It's very difficult sometimes when I get to the finals and I want so much for Jeanne to stay and watch," says Chris. "But I know it's better for her to go on down the road. She has her own younger friends on the tour whom I don't know very well. Jeanne doesn't make as much money as I do and our tastes are different. She goes her own way now. She has to have freedom and get away from me. She's her own person. But I think about her all the time."
Probably Colette has adapted to the family fame best; certainly she enjoys it most. A vivacious, laughing woman, the former Colette Thompson of Larchmont, N.Y., Mom Evert treats the big tournaments as joyous carnivals, her magnetic presence now a staple on the strawberry fields of Wimbledon and the tinkling verandas of Forest Hills.
Such social activity is not her husband's cup of tea. Although troubled by nerves and high blood pressure, Jimmy, 52, says Chris' success is "a dream come true." Thoroughly conscientious about the feelings of the rest of the family, he quickly points out that the success of "each one of them" is the biggest thrill. But Jimmy says that his family's fame has not been easy to handle.
"It is my nature to find things to worry about," he says. "I thought everything would be easier as I grew older. Instead it's gotten harder. Going to tournaments gets me too keyed up. I have the courts to take care of. I want to be concerned about the other children. I want to spend time with John and Clare. I think about not getting a chance to go watch Drew play at Auburn. I worry about Jeanne, her mental state. Then there's Chris and all the high-powered guys with the contracts."
Jimmy went to his first—and only—Wimbledon in 1975, and he has been to Forest Hills a couple of times, but Colette agrees that he doesn't enjoy tournaments anymore. Watching Chris' televised victory over Goolagong in San Francisco earlier this year, Jimmy had to get up and leave the living room; he couldn't stand the tension.
The agents and lawyers and reps and sharks have yet to get a hold on his little girl, though. Aided by his brother Chuck and a local friend, Jimmy himself negotiated Chris' early contracts—with Wilson rackets and Puritan dresses—and recently signed her on with Converse shoes and Borden's cheese. That is the sum of the endorsements. "You can get overexposed, spread too thin," Jimmy says. "We're big cheese eaters, but I don't want Chris getting into tennis clubs or vacation resorts. They demand too much of your time. She makes enough money for our way of living."
Rosie Casals has been after Jimmy to get Chris into tax shelters and permit her to join sister Jeanne in Casals' own condominium operation. Jimmy hasn't budged. Most of the net from the astounding, record-setting $425,000-plus that Chris won on the tennis court in 1975 was put into the family's own corporation, Evert Enterprises, which was formed when Chris turned pro and which includes pensions, trust funds, profit sharing—the works. "Our corporation is the best tax shelter there is," says Jimmy.
On her own, Chris recently sought out and got a contract with the Ford modeling people in a genuine attempt to broaden her horizons outside the game.
"My father is basically a very simple, conservative, uncomplicated man," says Chris. "All the other business that came with tennis was too much. It really aged him. He doesn't laugh or smile as much anymore. There was family, tennis and religion in his life. And that's all there ever was." And still is. Jimmy grew up in a strong Catholic family in Chicago, one of four brothers whose mother, Christine, got them in the habit of going to Mass every day. A Notre Dame man, Jimmy learned when he got in trouble to pray. His brother Chuck says Jimmy has never forgotten.