Some Australian Open viewers would like to go a few sets with tennis legend Chris Evert over her commentary during Serena Williams’ match vs. Naomi Osaka.
Osaka defeated Serena, who is of course front and center in the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) conversation in her own right, on Wednesday night. Evert, who was calling the match for ESPN, rubbed some fans the wrong way with her words and perceived tone during the semifinal.
“The person who needs to retire at the end of this match is Chris Evert,” one Twitter user wrote.
There is speculation that Williams is soon to announce her retirement from the sport. When asked after her match about walking away from tennis, Williams broke down in tears.
“Chris Evert is the face of misogynoir. Unapologetic and repetitive AF,” said another.
“Misogynoir” is a phrase coined by Moya Bailey to describe “the specific hatred, dislike, distrust, and prejudice directed toward Black women.”
“When I see women doing great things, like Serena Williams, I feel proud as a woman because she is pulling all women up with her greatness,” a third posed. “Chris Evert is the opposite of Serena, she tears all women down because of her own jealousy and insecurities. Get better Chris.”
The common criticism of Evert’s Wednesday commentary seems to be an assumption that Williams making her 54th quarter-finals in a major, tying Evert, was not an easy pill for the 1970s and 1980s tennis star to swallow. Serena has steadily surpassed several Evert accomplishments in recent years.
Evert has previously been called out for focusing on the “drama” Serena Williams brings to her tennis matches and not the skill. Some viewers believe Evert’s criticism is race-based.
Evert seems to have responded to one person on Twitter, her colleague, ESPN Radio host Josh Cohen.
“Because you’re my friend @ChrissieEvert I’m going to give you a quick read on Serena’s non-verbals leaving the court,” Cohen tweeted at Evert. “She did not indicate tells consistent with knowing she won’t be back. She did however indicate humility and appreciation. #bodylanguage #SerenaWilliams”
“Because you’re my friend my response was, she was either showing gratitude for their support or saying goodbye to The Australian Open,” Evert responded. “Period.”
A spokesperson for ESPN did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on the commentary and its reception on social media.
See a sampling of that backlash below.
The person who needs to retire at the end of this match is Chris Evert
— Dr. Sharon Leon (@sharonmleon) February 18, 2021
Chris Evert was so pissed when Serena broke her record I was laughing so hard. You could hear it in her voice lol
— Nate (@childofgod_21) February 18, 2021
Chris Evert is the face of misogynoir. Unapologetic and repetitive AF.
— Mythri Jegathesan (@MythriJega) February 18, 2021
This match and these women can stand alone w/o commentary. Chris Evert adds nothing, and she actually takes away from the moment by constantly talking about Naomi’s and Serena’s *emotions.*
This is elite sport. Period. Stop making women’s sports about “emotion” #AusOpen
— Mike Troup (@TroupForTheWin) February 18, 2021
I hate listening to Chris Evert
— Ancia Ifill (@ancia246) February 18, 2021
Chris Evert stumbles anytime she talks about Black women. It happens speaking about Serena and Naomi. It's really uncomfortable. pic.twitter.com/8PlyqjxQCC
— Sam White (@samwhiteout) February 18, 2021
now why is chris evert calling this match pic.twitter.com/fp1TVIC20c
— isa (@noirsigh) February 18, 2021
can we mute Chris Evert please.
— Destiny (@_robyndestiny) February 18, 2021
When I see women doing great things, like Serena Williams, I feel proud as a woman because she is pulling all women up with her greatness. Chris Evert is the opposite of Serena, she tears all women down because of her own jealousy and insecurities. Get better Chris.
— T. (@alleyoop08) February 18, 2021
It's about time Chris Evert was held accountable for her atrocious remarks that have plagued her commenting any time Serena, Venus, Naomi, Sloane, Madison… it's like there's one *key* theme here, but I can't put my finger on it. Do better, @espn.
— Farmer Lemons (@garrettmlemons) February 18, 2021
Chris Evert really be saying slick stuff about Serena and I be ready to jump through this damn tv and slap her. 🙄
— ✨⚡️💜 *S. Janelle* 💪🏾🏀💜 (@S_JanelleB) February 18, 2021
If Chris Evert mentions that Serena Williams brings "drama" ONE MORE MF TIME. No seriously @usta Enough is Enough with this racist anti-Black commentator and her obvious racial bias against THE marquis player of the circuit.
— I too am not a cat (@LeslieMac) February 18, 2021
There are plenty more where those came from.