In his introduction, Amdur, a sports reporter for The New York Times and a leading authority on the world of professional tennis, states that this book is about a tennis star growing up. He stressed to Evert Lloyd that she should “tell people who she is and how she came to be this person, not project an image that she might want the public to see.” Chrissie does show the person, not the image, in a touching, human, and objective way. The young reader sees her pain, her pleasures, her isolation, her mischief, and her successes. Teenage readers, whether aspiring to be tennis professionals or not, can identify with this young athlete.
Chrissie covers a historical period that is very important to women’s tennis, as it shows the struggles of women to make the world give them equal rights and equal prize money. Evert Lloyd comments that “open tennis was approved in 1968 but the tournament prize-money breakdowns stigmatized women as second-class citizens.” The story of the “Women’s Lob” in 1970, an organization in which such players as Billie Jean King signed symbolic one-dollar-a-year contracts, forced the world to acknowledge women’s equal place in tournaments. The unfairness was brought to the attention of all. For example, at the U.S. Open in 1968, Tom Okker of The Netherlands collected $14,000, but Virginia Wade received only $6,000. In 1969, Stan Smith won $4,000 and a Renault automobile for being the men’s champion at the Eastern grass courts, while Pattie Hopson, the women’s champion, earned only $1,000. Evert Lloyd was caught up in the “New Feminism” movement without really being a part of it. She had to decide whether to play in United States Tennis Association-sanctioned events instead of in the Women’s Lob circuit, and she risked being banned from all USTA junior events if she played the Lob. Finally, the USTA reinstated Billie Jean King and others, but Evert Lloyd remained an outsider with the older players. Sports historians can gain insight into the trials of women’s tennis through her eyes, and young readers can identify with the many social snubs that she received. Evert Lloyd’s shyness is of note throughout the book, as she was known as “Little Miss Cool,” “The Ice Maiden,” and “The Ice Dolly.” She recounts her pain and isolation in overcoming this shyness, and young readers who go through this same growing period can profit from her experience.
Evert Lloyd won five U.S. Opens, two Wimbledon tournaments, and was ranked first in the world. Reading her life story is a worthwhile experience for young tennis players, who may start competing in sanctioned tournaments at a very young age in the ten-and-under category. Teenage readers who are not tennis enthusiasts can still identify with the warmth of her family, friends, and sweethearts. The book examines the basic need to love and to be loved, security, physical well-being, achievement, and emotional well-being. Chrissie has a permanent place in the history of a famous tennis star and her times. Because this autobiography ends with 1981, it does not contain descriptions of her continued tennis successes, her divorce from John Lloyd, her marriage to ski professional Andy Mill, and the birth of her baby.