ALEX THOMAS: It’s not just Roger needing to shake off some rust
before the first Grand Slam Tournament of the new season. While Federer and Williams
lost on Wednesday, Angelique Kerber and Dominika
Cibulkova, the top two seeds, are out of the Brisbane
International– one of those Australian Open warm-up events. Kerber’s loss is perhaps
the most interesting. She holds the world number
one spot that Serena Williams would love to have back. And the German made 48 unforced
errors as she slips to a three set defeat by Elina Svitolina. Cibulkova’s tournament
ended by France’s Alize Cornet, 6-3, 7-5. Let’s get more on this with
tennis legend, Chris Evert, winner of the Australian
Open in 1982 and 1984. Two of her 18 grand
slam singles titles. She still holds the record for
the highest winning percentage in pro tennis history. And that just scratches the
surface of your achievements in the game, Chris. We’ll be here for the next
15, 20 minutes so I ought to get to my first question. Lovely to speak to
you, live from Florida. And I presume when you see
the feats we’re hearing about from the other
side of the world, you weren’t that
surprised because it’s so early in the season. CHRIS EVERT: Yeah, it’s
not a shock unless it would happen in the Australian Open. You know, I think
these tournaments are tournaments to
really prepare yourself. It is the first
tournament of the year. So I think it
shows that you know these players are
probably playing their way into the Australian Open. I think that’s the big target
where they want to do well. But I think it also shows that
the competition is so close and that’s the beauty of,
especially women’s tennis right now. ALEX THOMAS: Yeah,
you’re talking about the close competition. That Kerber-Williams rivalry
is absolutely fascinating. How important is
it to the women’s game in general to see that? CHRIS EVERT: You know, rivalries
make us make the sport. When I think back in my
rivalry with Martina, we played over 80
times and it became something that people wanted
to turn on the TV and watch. They wanted to see the outcome. It was so close. And I think rivalries,
especially if there’s a contrast in styles
like Kerber and Serena, a contrast in personalities–
I think it makes for really interesting TV and drama. So I’m really
happy that finally, somebody has stepped up to
challenge Serena Williams. And it is Angelique Kerber. ALEX THOMAS: How
interesting for you to talk about a difference in styles. You look at someone
in the men’s game like Nick Kyrgios, who’s
certainly got a different style to the rest– I mean,
you are famous for being pretty sporting on the courts. How much do you
think does keeping your cool help you get results
at the top level of the game? CHRIS EVERT: Well for me–
because if you look at me, I’m not the athlete that
Martina was or Stephy was. I didn’t have the
strength that they had. I didn’t move as
quickly as they did. Not to undermine my
athletic ability, I wasn’t at their level. So I feel like I made up for
it in the mental department. You know, I stayed
cool under pressure. I played every point
like it was match point. And it worked for me. But not everybody can do that. Look at John McEnroe. He used to get
upset all the time. But he’d get upset and then
he’d get back to the next point and it would be forgotten. So everybody sort of has to go
along their own personality. ALEX THOMAS: Can you blame
the pressure on young players today?
Have they it harder? Would you like to be starting
out in the game today? CHRIS EVERT: I think right now,
the game is bigger business. There’s more money. There’s more media. There’s social media,
which– you can’t do anything in private anymore. Everybody knows everything
about your life. I think that adds more pressure. The players travel with
entourages of trainers and coaches and agents. We didn’t have that in our day. There was less
pressure for sure. So in answering
your question, yeah, I think there is more pressure. ALEX THOMAS: Sounds
like you were from the golden heyday, Chris,
that we will remember fondly. Tell us what you are up to
today in Orlando, Florida. I know that America is desperate
for the next big tennis still to come through. CHRIS EVERT: I’m in Orlando
at the USDA national campus. And it’s a phenomenal facility. It’s a 100 courts, 64 acres. It really will help
players at every level, from professional
players who come here and want to train
hard to young kids who are around the country. It’s going to help
players with disabilities. It’s going to help
recreational players, college players,
under-resourced kids– the USDA is bringing in to help. And so it’s really helping
and reaching out to players at every level and I think it’s
going to be the tennis mecca of the United States right now. ALEX THOMAS: A
fantastic fun speaking to such a legend of tennis. Chris Every, really appreciate
your time here on CNN. Many thanks.

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