The Untold Story of Chris Evert’s Tennis Bracelet

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A few years back, we had the opportunity to interview Chris Evert in order to get the real scoop on her famous tennis bracelet. This article has consistently been one of our top ten most popular posts during every Grand Slam tournament. As we enter the second week of the 2023 U.S. Open, we decided to revisit and re-share the article.

At some point, the story behind how Chris Evert’s diamond bracelet became known as a tennis bracelet got muddled. When I sat down to write a post about this iconic piece of jewelry in honor of the U.S. Open, I began to do some research and was surprised by the various accounts that people were reporting.

Almost every article I came across stated that during a match in 1987, Evert’s diamond line bracelet flew off her arm and she stopped to search for it. Supposedly, this was the moment the jewelry style became known as a tennis bracelet. One writer even got so specific, mentioning that this incident occurred during an exceptionally long rally at the 1987 U.S. Open.

Jimmy Connors poses on the court with Chris Evert in 1974. Photo Getty

Jimmy Connors poses on the court with Chris Evert in 1974. Photo Getty

However, my main concern is actually with the date that people are claiming this event took place. Based on the oral history of jewelry, I had always understood that the diamond line bracelet, a style that originated in the 1920s, was named a “tennis bracelet” during the 1970s when Evert began wearing it as she rose to prominence in the tennis world. The idea of playing tennis while wearing diamonds was seen as quite extravagant, and as a result, her bracelet was given the name “tennis bracelet” by someone unknown, and the name stuck.

To further verify the facts, I delved deeper into my research. One piece of evidence that challenges the notion of the 1987 U.S. Open incident is an article in The New York Times dated July 17, 1987. The article, titled “Toward a Backhand,” explores the popularity of tennis bracelets and mentions, “Why, you may ask, a tennis bracelet? Most likely because Chris Evert, among others, has worn one on the tennis court.”

An article published on August 4, 1987, in the Los Angeles Times also supports the claim that the name “tennis bracelet” was already well-established by the time of the 1987 U.S. Open. The article praises the diamond studs worn by Australian men’s champion Pat Cash and says, “And, let’s not forget what Chris Evert did for the diamond ‘tennis bracelet’.” In other words, the name was already in use before that particular Slam.

Chris Evert wearing a couple of bracelets as she prepares to receive serve at Wimbledon in 1975 Photo Bob Thomas/Getty Images

Chris Evert wearing a couple of bracelets as she prepares to receive serve at Wimbledon in 1975 Photo Bob Thomas/Getty Images

If we analyze this academically, it becomes clear that the 1970s is the most likely timeline for the birth of the tennis bracelet. This era coincided with the disco culture, where people started embracing a more casual style by wearing denim alongside their diamonds. The demand for understated luxury prompted high-end jewelers to create pieces that catered to this trend. For example, Tiffany’s Elsa Peretti introduced her Diamonds-by-the-Yard necklace, a versatile jewelry that can be worn with anything. Similarly, Cartier’s designer Aldo Cipullo, known for the Love and Juste un Clou bracelets, stated that this period marked a transition to something completely different from what had been done before. Within this context, Chris Evert sporting diamonds while playing tennis, and her bracelet being labeled as a tennis bracelet, aligns with the overall fashion sentiment of that time.

In an effort to verify the facts once and for all, I reached out to Chris Evert’s publicist, Tami Starr. According to Starr, Chris Evert recalls wearing a diamond and gold bracelet that broke and fell onto the court during an early round of the U.S. Open. Play had to be paused while she searched for it. Starr also mentioned that Evert remembers this incident happening in 1978, the year when the U.S. Open moved from Forest Hills to Flushing Meadows.

It seems that somewhere along the way, someone on the internet accidentally changed the year from 1978 to 1987, and this misinformation spread like wildfire. Therefore, based on all the evidence, it is safe to say that Chris Evert would certainly know the year when she almost lost her diamonds.

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