Chris Evert appreciates that she, Serena Williams and other Wimbledon women's singles champions will now be listed on the All England Club's honor boards in a Centre Court hallway simply by their first initial and last name — the way the men's title winners always have been — instead of preceded by “Miss” or “Mrs.”
Evert won three of her 18 career Grand Slam singles trophies at Wimbledon; until now, the entry for her 1981 championship has shown her name as “Mrs. J.M. Lloyd,” in reference to her husband at that time, John Lloyd. For her earlier titles in 1974 and 1976, before that marriage, she was listed as “Miss C.M. Evert.”
“I am pleased the All England Club has changed the names. It was outdated and women should be treated equally with the men, as we are with equal prize money,” Evert wrote in a text message to The Associated Press on Friday. “I have always used my maiden name in tennis. I began my career, became a champion, and ended my career as Chris Evert! As proud as I was to be married to John at the time, it was my name that deserved to be on the honor board!!!”
The switch to the women’s honor board has been completed, a spokeswoman for the All England Club confirmed to the AP via email on Friday. The intention to alter the way women's names are displayed was first reported by The Times of London.
Williams' name, for example, appears seven times on the green boards with gold lettering, once for each of her singles championships at the grass-court Grand Slam tennis tournament, and each entry has read “Miss S. Williams.” That now has been updated to “S. Williams.”
That conforms to the style that always has been in use for men: 2021 champion Novak Djokovic is listed as “N. Djokovic” for each of his six Wimbledon titles.
Last year's women's champion, the since-retired Ash Barty, had been listed as “Miss A. Barty.”
As the start of Wimbledon approaches on June 27, this is the latest in a series of moves toward gender equity in recent years at the oldest Grand Slam tournament, which was first held in 1877 — for men only. The first women’s champion was not crowned until 1884.
The removal of “Miss” and “Mrs.” from the honor board follows the change in 2019 to the way Wimbledon chair umpires refer to female players during matches.
Prior to that year, officials would say “Miss” — or, as of 2018, “Mrs." for married women — preceding a player's last name when announcing the winner of a game, a set or a match in the women's draw, while only saying a player's last name at men's matches.
The All England Club began paying female players the same as men in 2007, one year after the French Open started giving the same checks to the men’s and women’s singles champions. The other two Grand Slam tournaments, the U.S. Open and Australian Open, already had been issuing equal prize money for years.
When Wimbledon began paying players at the outset of the professional era in 1968, women’s singles champion Billie Jean King took home a little more than a third of what was earned by men’s champion Rod Laver.