The 18-time Slam champion had the highest praise for Serena Williams ahead of the US Open. By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday, August 24, 2022

From one tennis icon to another… legend Chris Evert spoke openly about the impact that Serena Williams has had on tennis in a conference call to promote ESPN’s coverage of the 2022 US open.

What impressed Evert the most?

Tennis Express

Not necessarily the tennis, but the aura – and William’s off-court achievements.

“I think that for me, she’s been very inspirational off the court,” Evert said. “I mean, on the court, it’s obvious, those tangibles – her record, her power, her mental toughness. That’s all her ranking, that’s all obvious and you can see that very clearly.

“But the intangibles… the fearlessness in her has really impressed me. The fact that she’s never set any limits in tennis or in life. To get that message across to everybody, I think, is very, very powerful.”

Williams means a lot of things to a lot of people, but nobody can deny the fact that her impact spills out of the tennis bubble and into larger issues, like women’s rights, equality, race and social justice.

“She has so many platforms, from the body shaming, to working moms, to women of color, and just empowering women,” Evert said. “I think that message, off the court, to me and maybe to millions of people, is more profound and more powerful than even what she’s done on the court.”

There is also the fact that Williams changed not only the way the sport is played by women; she also changed how women perceive their own potential. Williams led by example and taught many women (tennis players or otherwise) how to be strong, proud and unrelenting.

“In my view, she revolutionized tennis,” Evert said. “She revolutionized the power in the game. And I feel like she really inspired women of color, because we've seen a lot more women of color playing the game.

“And I think that she's changed the way women compete as far as it's okay to be, like, ferocious and passionate and vocal out there, emotional out there on the court and still be a woman, still not take away from being a woman. So I think strength and power and having that really intense competitive attitude, I think all of that went up a level when Serena came on the scene.”

40-year-old Williams will compete in what is likely to be her last Grand Slam event next week at the US Open. The main draw will take place on Thursday.