Tennis legend Chris Evert has opened up about how her younger sister’s devastating death from ovarian cancer helped to ‘save her life’, revealing how her sibling’s battle with the disease prompted her to undergo testing – allowing her own cancer to be detected incredibly early.
The 67-year-old offered a candid glimpse into her cancer battle for an upcoming episode of HBO’s Real Sports, with GMA airing a preview clip on Monday morning – in which Evert is seen undergoing her final rounds of chemo, while paying tribute to her late sister Jeanne Evert Dubin.
‘My sister’s death saved my life,’ she shares in the teaser, revealing how she received a call from Jeanne’s geneticist following her death alerting her to a ‘new mutation’ in her sibling’s BRCA gene, which the doctor encouraged her to get tested.
‘I just feel so fortunate that… if it wasn’t for the call that I received from my sister’s geneticist saying that Jeanne’s BRCA… they had found a new mutation,’ she added.
Tennis legend Chris Evert has shared a candid glimpse into her ovarian cancer battle, revealing she has now completed her chemotherapy treatment
The 67-year-old announced in January that she had been diagnosed with stage one ovarian cancer after undergoing a preventative hysterectomy
Evert is set to appear in Tuesday’s episode of HBO show Real Sports, in which she will document her chemotherapy journey
The 18-time Grand Slam champion underwent a preventative hysterectomy in November 2021 – less than two years after her sister died at the age of 62 following her own battle with ovarian cancer – as a result of the testing, and it was during this procedure that doctors discovered a malignant tumor on her fallopian tubes.
The tennis legend remains one of the most successful female player’s in the sports history, earning 18 Grand Slam singles championships before her retirement in 1989
She was diagnosed with stage one ovarian cancer – however a second procedure revealed that the cancer had been removed entirely during the hysterectomy and that it had not spread.
Evert began undergoing chemotherapy at the start of this year; she has now completed her six rounds of treatment and has been told by doctors that there is a ’90 per cent chance her cancer de ella will never return’.
During her appearance on Real Sports – which is due to air in full on Tuesday – the former Grand Slam champion, who is one of the sport’s most successful female players, was asked by her close friend and fellow former tennis pro Mary Carillo whether her success on the courts had helped her with her health struggles.
‘In tennis you can control a situation a lot better and [with] this type of thing, you can’t control it,’ Evert admitted, adding that – while she may have been a stand-out star in tennis – cancer puts everyone on the same footing.
Evert’s younger sister Jeanne Evert Dubin (pictured together as children) passed away from ovarian cancer in February 2020 – and Evert says ‘her death saved my life’
After Jeanne died at age 62, her geneticist phoned Evert to encourage her to get checked for a BRCA gene mutation; the tennis pro then underwent a preventative hysterectomy
During her hysterectomy, doctors found a malignant tumor on Evert’s fallopian tube and she was diagnosed with cancer. The tennis pro is pictured at the US Open in 1989
‘Thousands and thousands of people have cancer… I’m just like everybody else,’ she noted.
However Evert has also managed to find some positive moments during her cancer struggle, including her newly-curated wig collection, which she showed off to her pal Carillo during the show, revealing that she has a variety of different styles to suit her mood for the day.
Evert’s appearance on the HBO show comes five months after she first revealed to the world that she had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer in an essay posted to ESPN.com.
In the piece, the tennis legend revealed that she wanted to share her story in the hopes of ‘helping others’ by spreading awareness about the disease and the importance of getting regular check-ups.
‘I wanted to share my stage one ovarian cancer diagnosis and the story behind it as a way to help others,’ she wrote in January, before she began undergoing chemo.
‘I feel very lucky that they caught it early and expect positive results from my chemo plan.’
Evert has managed to find some positive moments within her cancer battle, including amassing a collection of wigs to suit every mood
Evert won 18 Grand Slam singles championships and three doubles titles during her on-court career, and was the year-end world number one singles player seven times
Writing of the moment when her doctor told her that she would likely have a better than 90 per cent chance of her cancer never returning following chemotherapy, Evert said: ‘I don’t remember being that happy in years!’
Evert won 18 Grand Slam singles championships and three doubles titles during her on-court career, and was the year-end world number one singles player seven times.
Overall, she won 157 singles titles and 32 doubles titles.
Evert officially retired from tennis in September 1989; she went on to work as a tennis coach, and later joined ESPN as a commentator.
Following her sister’s death in February 2020 Evert, who has been married three times and has three sons, paid tribute to her younger sibling – who was also a tennis player – describing her as a ‘stellar’ person.
“Jeanne was selfless, caring and kind,” she told ESPN. ‘As a sister, I admired her stellar character from her and her unwavering devotion from her to her loved ones from her. She fought a brave battle, and now heaven is lucky to have her.’