Yet, it's also true that in what she did for herself last year—just plain up and quitting, and coming back and scratching out the victory over Austin—Evert Lloyd gave herself something that no one else ever could have provided her. Getting married to an understanding dreamboat was not, as it turned out, the culmination of her youth. No, given Evert Lloyd's upbringing, that was merely something in the cards, something she had to get out of the way before she went about finishing the task of forming herself.
"You see," Casals says, "Tracy is still a caterpillar, but now Chris is a butterfly, and everything will be perfect now. She has the perfect husband and the perfect life, and when the baby comes, don't worry, it'll be the right thing to do at the right time. And someday Chris will play with her in mother-daughter tournaments. It's all there. It's perfect. It's Hollywood. It's a fairy tale."
Somewhere now, Chris laughs. Chris kisses John. Chris puts on tight T shirts. Chris tells jokes. Chris practices volleying. Chris streaks her hair and wears it just like John. The absolute self-assurance she has always manifested on the court that so frightened her own sister now shows up off the court as a fluid kind of confidence and maturity.
Traveling, she never carries her rackets anymore and delights that sometimes she goes undetected. "They're all looking for that porky little kid they've seen on television," she says, laughing. At Wimbledon last year, a cloying story in the Daily Mirror about Britain's tennis sweethearts began, "She has the best boobs in the business, but he has the best pins...."
"Do you have any comment on this sentence?" Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News asked her in a mock-serious tone, brandishing a copy of the Mirror.
"Absolutely," Evert Lloyd replied straightaway in kind. "It's high time that the press finally got one thing right about me."
Even her appearance on court has been modified, her traditional one-piece dresses having been replaced this year by the racier Continental separates she wears for her new couturier, Ellesse. Evert Lloyd has also taken to wearing bobby sox instead of those cutesy-poo little numbers with the pompons, which is, for tennis, a fashion footwear bombshell on the order of Baryshnikov suddenly appearing at Lincoln Center in galoshes.
But there also are some things that don't change: the dainty barrettes holding her hair just so, the polished fingernails, the old-fashioned wood racket, the inscrutable, placid face, never revealing emotions even if a reddening nose gives some clue to the exertions taking place. Watch very carefully and you'll notice a slight grimace whenever an opponent hits a drop shot to lure her to the net, but that's all, just gritted teeth. When she serves, it's not a grunt she utters like other tennis mortals but a soft sigh, and as she prepares to receive a serve, she doesn't bounce about so much as she dances for us. At the conclusion of each shot, wherever she is on the court, her left hand reaches for the throat of the racket, ready to grasp the handle for a backhand. Occasionally, between points, she will touch a palm to her hip, drying her hand delicately. While resting during changeovers, other players may flop down, legs out; Evert Lloyd always makes sure to sit straight up, tucking one leg back, heel up on the chair leg, the other slightly extended, as if she were awaiting tea. Listen, it's not that bad to take up sweating, so long as you do it stylishly.
"She came along at a time when the audience expects to be involved, to be a part of you," Tinling says. "And the audience could see right away that she didn't want that. She had to learn to impose her own distinctive stardom, and she has become the most gracious world champion I've ever seen. At a time when controversy and manners have been called up for discussion, Chris has forever proved to be that thing my mother would have called a lady.
"And that Chris has a heart of steel and makes no bones about it—that makes this accomplishment all the more impressive." That's why the lady is a jock.