For tennis history buffs, The Rivals will give insight into the inscrutable relationship between the “ice princess” Chris Evert and “automaton” Martina Navratilova.
It is a surprise that despite their intense competition, they became friends and made great contributions to each other’s lives. Martina introduced Chris to the man who became her husband; Chris accompanied Martina to give her moral support when she went home to Czechoslovakia for the first time in eleven years.
It turns out that the media darling Chris Evert liked to drink, date and tell dirty jokes; she said that only dirty jokes are funny. Martina, who appeared invincible, was sensitive and even cried at times.
Then there were their different sexual preferences. Chris was the All-American girl who played tennis hard but was still very feminine and obviously heterosexual. Martina was a woman with muscles back in the day before that was done, and she was brave enough to be openly gay. It took a while before people understood that her sexuality had nothing to do with her playing ability. Just ask Chrissie.
The Rivals is not just a great read because the subjects are athletic heroes. It is great because it proves that people who are polar opposites can become great friends even while being in tough competition. The Rivals is a sports history of tennis and a life lesson for everyone.