On 26 April 1981, Chris Evert dismantled Martina Navratilova 6-0 6-0 in the final of the Amelia Island Championships. The duo shared what is widely considered to be one of the greatest rivalries in the history of tennis and all sports, meeting 80 times between 1973 and 1988, with the latter finishing with a 43-37 edge.
The Amelia Island Championships was a WTA tournament played on green clay courts, which was held from 1980 to 2010. The 1981 edition of the event – known as the 1981 Murjani WTA Championships – was held from 20-26 April at the Amelia Island Plantation on Amelia Island, Florida.
Navratilova was the defending champion in Amelia Island, having beaten Hana Mandlikova in the final of the inaugural 1980 edition of the tournament. 14players from the 56-player draw were seeded at the 1981 Murjani WTA Championships, with Evert and Navratilova the top two seeds. Evert and Navratilova had met 40 prior to this clash, with the former holding a 27-13 advantage. Evert had also won all six of the pair’s previous matches on clay courts.
After receiving a first round bye, Evert routed unseeded Swiss Isabelle Villiger 6-1 6-1 in the second round of the 1981 Murjani WTA Championships. The American then downed 11th-seeded Czech Regina Marsikova 6-3, 6-1 in the third round.
Evert beat No. 5 seed and fellow countrywoman Pam Shriver by the same scoreline in the last eight, before a 6-0, 6-2 semifinal triumph over seventh-seeded Romanian Virginia Ruzici. Navratilova, who also received a bye, started her campaign with a 6-0 6-1 demolition of South Korean lucky-loser Lee Duk-hee. In the third round, the Czechoslovak-American defeated American qualifier Kathy Rinaldi 7-6 6-1.
Navratilova then earned a 4-6 6-1 6-1 victory against Germany’s fourth-seeded Sylvia Hanika in the quarterfinals, before downing the 10th-seeded Yugoslavian Mima Jausovec in the last four.
But the final of the 1981 Murjani WTA Championships was to prove rather less competitive. In one of the best performances of her entire career, Evert dismantled defending champion Navratilova 6-0, 6-0 in a stunning display in just 54 minutes. It is the only match between the legendary duo that ended with this scoreline.
The victory was Evert’s 49th consecutive win on clay and improved her record on the surface to 174-1 since 1973. The American had won 125 straight matches on clay during this stretch (between August 1973 and May 1979) – the record winning streak on a single surface. Navratilova discussed her great rival’s clay court prowess and her own performance at the trophy ceremony.
”When they introduced Chris, they said she was a virtuoso on clay,” Navratilova said. “She showed them they were right. I’m sorry I didn’t do much better. I have a check here for $16,000, and I feel like I should give half of it back to you.”
Both players would finish with a joint-record of three Amelia Island Championships titles (with Steffi Graf, Gabriela Sabatini and Lindsay Davenport). Evert defended her crown in 1982 and 1983, while Navratilova would win further titles at the event in 1984 and 1988.
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