After slow start, women's legends put together blasts from the past Team Navratilova leads Evert's in event at Arena

May 21, 1998|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

It took awhile for the women to get warmed up at the Virginia Slims Legends Tour matches last night at Baltimore Arena. But once that was accomplished, slam-bang tennis broke out all over the place.

"The last match is usually the most competitive one because we're really into it by then," said Chris Evert. "And face it, these girls have only been off the tour for three years and then there's me."

The "girls" Evert was referring to are her partner Pam Shriver, and opponents Martina Navratilova and Zina Garrison. All flashed moments of near brilliance as points stretched out to a dozen hits or so before someone would put the ball away with a bullet-like smash from bygone days.

Navratilova and Garrison won, 6-4, giving Navratilova's team an 18-17 lead over Team Evert heading into tonight's two doubles and one singles match that will pit Navratilova against Shriver.

"I've been off the tour for nine years now," said Evert, "but this is good for me, playing with Pam, Martina and Zina. I have to lift my game and, when I do, Pam and I have a pretty good chance of winning if we hang in there."

It wasn't until the third pairing with Ilana Kloss -- filling in for Evonne Goolagong, who suffered a strained knee -- teaming with Evert, that the action picked up.

The exchanges between the Evert tandem and the duo of Garrison and Wendy Turnbull produced the action and shot-making spectators clamor for. Then it got even better.

The crowd of 2,832 was now having a good time, and part of the reason was, as Evert put it: "We're much more open to the crowds now. We show the personal side of us. For instance, I never would have fallen down and laid on the court like I did tonight [at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open]."

No kidding.

Match resultsRosie Casals-Navratilova def. Shriver-Virginia Wade, 6-1; Goolagong-Wade def. Casals-Turnbull, 6-2; Evert-Kloss def. Garrison-Turnbull, 6-4; Garrison-Navratilova def. Evert-Shriver, 6-4.

Pub Date: 5/21/98

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