Sports

Chris Evert Needs Everyone to Listen

In 2020, when many charitable organizations struggled to raise money in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Faber had an advantage in the sports legend. Once, he set up a video conference call with a wealthy donor, who Faber hoped would contribute $250,000. With Evert on the line, the man was so delighted, he brought his wife into the conversation and by the time it ended, their check was for $1 million.

It was not because she regaled them with tales of playing Navratilova and Steffi Graf but because of her passion for the cause, and expectations are that 2022 could be the organization’s best year ever for fund-raising, Faber said. Evert downplays her contributions with the same natural modesty she displayed as a player who rose to stardom from public tennis courts.

“What’s so hard about getting on a Zoom?” she said. “Look, I had the time. My kids were grown up. Sure, it makes me feel good to give back, but it makes me really feel good to engage with kids that don’t have the resources and don’t have opportunities. When I travel and see these programs at work, I see how important they are.”

Evert knows this firsthand. When she and her four siblings were growing up, their father, Jimmy Evert — a tennis instructor at public courts in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for 49 years — insisted his children play tennis after school. Long after Chris Evert had turned it into a successful career, she asked her father why he made them all play. “‘To keep you kids off the streets,’” she said he told her.

“What, did he think that I was going to join a gang or something?” Evert said with a chuckle. “But as I got older I, he got smarter in my eyes. Idle time is not good for kids, especially in this day and age. You have to keep them busy in a positive way.”

Jimmy Evert, and his wife, Colette, a eucharistic minister, imbued their children with a sense of charity alongside the tennis, Chris said. Jimmy gave free tennis clinics to locals, and Colette worked with the Salvation Army, encouraging the children to go through their clothes once a month for donations.

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