French Open: 50 Years Ago, Chris Evert and Bjorn Borg Changed Tennis

As teenagers, they brought the two-handed backhand to the sport — and to their first major championships, both at the French Open.

When Chris Evert arrived in Paris for the 1973 French Open, she was an 18-year-old making just her second trip out of the United States. So she is still baffled as to why Philippe Chatrier, then the president of the French Tennis Federation, decided to take her and her mother, Colette, to Le Lido, the legendary burlesque theater on the Champs-Élysées.

“He took us to dinner, and it was a dance club with half-naked women,” Evert said by phone from her Florida home in April. “They had their breasts showing. My eyes were like saucers. I had never been exposed to anything so sophisticated like that.”

For Bjorn Borg, the ultimate Paris experience was celebrating his first French Open championship in 1974 with a private dinner in the Eiffel Tower.

It has been more than a half century since Borg and Evert first played the French Open, but this year marks the 50th anniversary of their winning their first major championships in Paris. Evert went on to capture 18 Grand Slam singles titles, including a record seven at the French Open, six at the United States Open, three at Wimbledon and two at the Australian Open. Borg won six French Opens from 1974 to 1981 and five consecutive Wimbledons from 1976 to 1980.

Borg was just days shy of his 17th birthday when he lost to Adriano Panatta in the round of 16 at the French Open in 1973, only his second appearance at a major after a first-round loss at the 1972 U.S. Open.

Bjorn Borg playing Jean-François Caujolle in the first round of the French Open in 1974.Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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Source: Tennis -


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