A US Open champion is recognized first and foremost by the number of titles won. But becoming an all-time Open great also requires a metronomic consistency, the ability to bring your best year after year under the brightest of lights.
For nearly two decades, that is what Chris Evert did, arriving first in Forest Hills and then in Flushing Meadows and playing deep into the draw, again and again and again. The result was 101 singles match victories – making her the only player in U.S. Championships/US Open history, dating back to the beginning of the event in 1881, to crack the century mark.
Her 101 wins edge the men’s leader, Jimmy Connors, who stands at 98, and are two full tournaments worth of victories clear of the women’s runner-up, Martina Navratilova, who claimed 89 singles triumphs. Of the current players, the closest to catching Evert are Serena Williams, currently at 84, and Roger Federer, who checks in at 78. That means the earliest Serena could catch her fellow six-time women’s singles champion is 2018, and the earliest Federer could do the same is 2019. It’s worth noting that both Serena and Fed are 34 years old.
The number behind the number for Evert is 16. That’s the number of consecutive US Open semifinals she reached from her tournament debut in 1971 through 1986. That run was snapped in the 1987 quarterfinals by Lori McNeil, who toppled Evert in a tight three-setter. The 18-time Grand Slam singles champion would return to her regular spot in the Final Four in 1988 before losing in the quarters again in 1989, to Zina Garrison in her final professional WTA match.
For those looking to track history, US Open win No. 100 came over Argentina’s Patricia Tarabini, and No. 101 came against a promising upstart who took Evert’s trademark two-hander to another level: then-15-year-old wunderkind Monica Seles.