Chris Evert vs. Martina Navratilova, 1972-89
Scouting report: After the Women’s Tennis Association introduced its ranking system in 1975, Evert or Navratilova held the No. 1 spot for 592 consecutive weeks. The peak: 1984. Evert held the year-end No. 1 ranking in seven of eight years between 1974 and 1981. Navratilova took over in 1982. In the 1984 U.S. Open, Navratilova, using a newfound power game, rallied to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. The score: Each won 18 Grand Slam tournament titles. In 80 head-to-head matches (61 in tournament finals), Navratilova holds a 43-37 edge. They said it: “To beat Martina, I had to take chances, I had to play out of the box,” Evert told The New York Times. Scouting report: Between 1960 and 1966, Palmer and Nicklaus combined to win six of seven Masters. But their back-and-forth extended all over the PGA Tour. The peak: 1962. Just 22 years old, Nicklaus earned his first professional victory— but only after an era-changing, 18-hole playoff against Palmer, 32, in the U.S. Open at Oakmont, Pa. The score: Palmer finished with 62 PGA Tour wins and seven majors. Nicklaus won 73 times, with a record 18 majors. They said it: “Not winning this one probably was the biggest disappointment of my life,” Palmer said of losing the 1962 U.S. Open. Scouting report: Seabiscuit’s takedown of the mighty War Admiral was perhaps the first trash-talking, call-out event in American sports. The peak: 1938. War Admiral won the Triple Crown in 1937. Seabiscuit was a small throwaway revived by an outsider owner, Charles Howard, and trainer, Tom Smith. They goaded War Admiral’s handlers into a match race. The score: Seabiscuit 1, War Admiral 0. They met just once, at Pimlico. Seabiscuit won by 4 lengths and set a track record. They said it: “A little horse with the heart of a lion and the flying feet of a gazelle yesterday proved his place as the gamest thoroughbred that ever raced over an American track,” Grantland Rice wrote.
Chris Evert, left, congratulatesMartina Navratilova after a Navratilova victory in 1983. Associated Press file