Across three decades of her life, Chris Evert had left her mark on Wimbledon. She’d first won the title as a teenager, earned two more in her 20s and continued to excel on the grass well into her 30s. As the 1989 edition of The Championships got underway, Evert had played the tournament 17 times and only once failed to go as far as the semis.
But now, in the ’89 quarterfinals, playing what she and the world sensed was likely her final Wimbledon, Evert was in a deep hole. She was up against 82nd-ranked Laura Golarsa, a crafty Italian who that day was storming the net with supreme proficiency. Golarsa went up 5-2 in the third. It’s likely Golarsa and her closest friends (and perhaps not even them) wanted to see the match end this way.
With Golarsa serving at 5-3, 30-all, Evert struck a signature shot – a running backhand down-the-line passing shot. Evert would say after the match, “It was the most important point I had played in a long time. I knew then that I could win.”
So it was meant to be. Evert would snap up five straight games. She was once again in the semis. And though she would then lose to eventual champion Steffi Graf, it had been a stylish exit.