JOHNETTE HOWARD is an award-winning sports columnist for "Newsday" who previously worked as a senior writer at "Sports Illustrated" and as a columnist at the" Washington Post." Her work was included in "The Best American Sports Writing of the 20th Century, " and her columns were nominated for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in general commentary. She lives in New York City.
Sportswriter Howard deftly chronicles the remarkable rivalry and friendship between tennis titans Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, who over a 16-year period faced off 80 times, including 60 finals. Howard vividly describes how Navratilova prevented Evert, who until 1978 held a 20-4 advantage over Navratilova in tournament play, from turning the 1978 Wimbledon championship into yet another ground stroke war: "She changed the rhythm of the match from the tick-tock of long rallies to something closer to a frenzied Rachmaninoff symphony. Flurries of points were over in seconds." Howard reports that the differences between Evert and Navratilova enlivened their rivalry on and off the court. Evert envied Navratilova's athletic ability and was drawn to her risk taking and unapologetic bluntness. Navratilova craved the self-control, public affection, and sense of community that Evert enjoyed. Navratilova's assessment: Chris was "the perfect image of a lady who also happens to be a great tennis player whereas I was an athlete who happens to be a woman. The contrast was pretty great." And as Howard accurately illustrates throughout the book, "they drove each other through epic duels and high-stakes drama. The performance standards and personal convictions that they evinced influenced female athletes for years to come." Included are easy-to-read statistical charts about the two players. Recommended for general and sports collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/05.]-Howard Katz, New York Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
For 16 years, Evert and Navratilova faced each other on the tennis court; they met 80 times-and 60 times in finals. Newsday columnist Howard captivatingly tells the story of how these two women came together from disparate worlds and founded a complicated though lasting friendship. Evert, the charming, ponytailed daughter of a middle-class, all-American family, captured many fans' hearts when she arrived on the scene at 16. Navratilova, on the other hand, exuded seriousness; her determined look and sturdy frame matched her history, a dramatic, heart-wrenching one that involved leaving her family behind in communist Czechoslovakia. Howard shows how Evert and Navratilova's paths slowly merged, until they finally faced each other for the first time in 1973. From then until 1988, they traded leads, with Evert winning most of the early matches and Navratilova dominating in later years (overall, Navratilova held a 43-37 advantage). Howard is equally adept at covering the athletes' personal lives (she interviewed both players) as well as their competition and divergent playing styles. She also pays homage to stars like Billie Jean King, who was committed to promoting women's tennis, so this work makes a fine contribution to the history of women in sports. Agent, Mark Reiter. (June 7) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Together, match by match, final by final, Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova changed women s tennis forever. I watched their rivalry with awe and pride: two remarkable athletes, fierce competitors and good friends. It s hard to remember what it was like for women and women athletes in particular back then; Johnette Howard captures it all in vivid detail. "The Rivals" is must reading for anyone with a passion for tennis and for anyone curious about Evert and Navratilova s utter transformation of the women s side of the game. Billie Jean King For all our seeming familiarity with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, Johnette Howard takes us deep inside the greatest rivalry in tennis history to reveal how it took the two champions the length of their twenty-year tennis war to truly know and love each other and themselves. With diligence and skill Howard chronicles their magnificent battles on the court, their turbulent times off the court, and the civil wars they waged within their own fragile psyches. It makes the journeys taken and the destinations reached all the more remarkable. Mary Carillo, CBS Sports With Chrissie and Martina as the leading ladies, Johnette Howard insightfully takes us on a marvelous tour through the panorama of the rise of professional tennis. She digs well below the surface of a tennis court to probe celebrated psyches as never before. Bud Collins, "Boston Globe"/NBC Finally, here is the definitive, inside-out look at one of the most gripping rivalries and relationships in sports. Johnette Howard s insightful and writerly book is the story of friendly enemies, and enormous friends two women who were alternately competitors and confidantes. It places Evert and Navratilova alongside Palmer and Nicklaus, Magic and Bird, and Ali and Frazier, but it also, rightly, sets them apart, historically inseparable and unique. Sally Jenkins, coauthor of "It s Not About the Bike" and "Every Second Counts""