Tennis world rallies around Chris Evert amid awful development before Australian Open

The 18-time grand slam champion won't be travelling to the Melbourne Park grand slam in 2024.

Chris Evert.
Chris Evert has received an outpouring of support from around the tennis world. Image: Getty

Tennis fans and commentators are sending their well-wishes to Chris Evert after the American great revealed her cancer has returned. In a statement released by ESPN, the 18-time grand slam champion said she will undergo more chemotherapy and won't be travelling to the Australian Open in January.

"While this is a diagnosis I never wanted to hear, I once again feel fortunate that it was caught early," the 68-year-old said. "Based on a PET CT scan, I underwent another robotic surgery this past week. Doctors found cancer cells in the same pelvic region. All cells were removed, and I have begun another round of chemotherapy."

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Evert revealed in January of 2022 that she'd been diagnosed with ovarian cancer - the same disease that younger sister Jeanie died of in 2020 at age 62. In January this year she announced that she was cancer free, but the disease has now returned.

Evert will not travel to the Australian Open in 2024 - which begins on January 14 - but said she would be "ready for the rest of the grand slam season". Friend and former rival Martina Navratilova previously credited Evert for her support when she was diagnosed with throat and breast cancer in 2022.

Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, pictured here at the WTA Finals.
Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert at the WTA Finals in November. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

"Since I was first diagnosed with cancer two years ago, I've been very open about my experience," Evert said. "I encourage everyone to know your family history and advocate for yourself. Early detection saves lives. Be thankful for your health this holiday season."

The American great was a trailblazing icon of the female game in the 1970s, winning a women's record seven French Open singles titles. She also snared a joint-record six US Open titles, along with three Wimbledon titles and two at the Australian Open.

She won 157 WTA singles titles all up and reached at least the semi-finals in 52 of the 56 grand slam tournaments she played throughout her career. She played Navratilova 14 times at grand slam level in one if the sport's great rivalries that stretched from 1973 until 1988.

Since her retirement, Evert has worked as a TV commentator and pundit. She has also worked in a mentoring role for young players on the WTA tour.

Tennis world sends messages of support to Chris Evert

In March of this year, Navratilova also revealed that she was cancer free. “I was in a total panic for three days thinking I may not see next Christmas," she admitted. "The bucket list came into my mind of all the things I wanted to do.

"It puts you face-to-face with your mortality, number one, because at the beginning I wasn't sure if it was treatable, so that was hard. But once I got into the program, it was a little easier emotionally, but more difficult physically. But I'm still standing."

Fans and commentators have been sending their love to Evert on social media. Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley wrote: "Get well soon - we'll miss you in Australia." American star John Isner commented: "You got this Chrissie."

Dick Vitale wrote: "Please tonight take a moment to say [prayers] for Chris Evert. ⁦She is a fighter and I know she will win this battle again. God Bless Chrissie. Have faith. Think positive."

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