Chris Evert’s father, Jimmy Evert, has died at the age of 91.
Jimmy was the patriarch of one of the most famous tennis families in the world. He had five children, all of whom he taught to play tennis at the Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale, where he served as a coach for nearly 50 years. The park was eventually renamed the Jimmy Evert Tennis Complex in 1997, according to the Miami Herald.
All of his children — Chris, John, Drew, Clare and Jeanne — reached at least the final of a national junior championship. However, his Grand Slam champion daughter, Chris Evert, became one of the greatest players in history, winning 18 major titles and finishing No. 1 for seven years, Fox News reports.
Not only did Jimmy serve as an excellent coach, he was also a fine player himself. In the 1940s, he was an All-American at Notre Dame, and reached as high as No. 11 in the U.S. rankings. Aside from his children, he also famously coached Jennifer Capriati, Harold Solomon, and Brian Gottfried. He is one of 15 people named on Fort Lauderdale’s Walk of Fame.
“He put Fort Lauderdale on the map as far as tennis goes,” Patricia Zeiler, the executive director of the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, said.
On Friday, August 21, Jimmy’s family, including his wife of 63 years, Colette, surrounded his bedside as he passed away from pneumonia at his home in Fort Lauderdale, the Sun Sentinel reports.
“Dad always said he started us in tennis to keep us off the streets,” Chris said of her father on Saturday afternoon. “He was a very private, humble person who was low-key and happy to stay in the background.”
On Saturday, Chris tweeted a sweet photo of her and her father, and captioned it by saying, “It’s an honor and a blessing to have been your daughter. You will be in my heart forever. RIP Dad… XO.”
It’s an honor and a blessing to have been your daughter. You will be in my heart forever. RIP Dad… XO pic.twitter.com/uHYjvCPZJ4
— Chris Evert (@ChrissieEvert) August 22, 2015
Jimmy is survived by his wife, Colette; brother, Jerry; wife, Audra; sister-in-law, Ruth; son, Drew, and his wife, Penny; daughter, Chris Evert; daughter, Jeanne Dubin; son, John Evert, and his wife, Mary; daughter, Clare Evert-Shane, and her husband, Steven Shane; and 10 grandchildren — Anna, Lauren, Eric, Catie, Alex, Nicky, Colton, Siena, Tatum, and Remi. He also has three great-grandchildren.
His visitation will be held on Tuesday, August 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Downtown Fort Lauderdale Chapel. His funeral will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday, August 26, at St. Anthony Catholic Church. Rather than sending flowers, Jimmy’s family has asked people to donate to the Jimmy Evert Scholarship Fund, which provides tennis lessons to underprivileged kids.
[Photo via Twitter]