Jimmy Evert, patriarch of one of the most famous tennis families in history, died in Fort Lauderdale on Friday evening of natural causes. He was 91.
He taught all five of his children to play tennis at Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale and was a fixture there as tennis director for nearly 50 years. The tennis complex was renamed the Jimmy Evert Tennis Complex in 1997.
Evert’s most famous tennis-playing child, 18-time Grand Slam champion Chris Evert, posted on Twitter: “It’s an honor and a blessing to have been your daughter. You will be in my heart forever. RIP Dad…XO.’’
Jimmy Evert, who was born in Chicago, was a fine player himself. He was an All-American at Notre Dame in the 1940s and reached as high as No. 11 in the U.S. rankings. But he is best known for his coaching at Holiday Park, where he took over in 1948.
Among his students were Jennifer Capriati, Harold Solomon and Brian Gottfried.
Chris Evert once said of her father: “In a nutshell, my Dad created the ideal environment for me to compete. He gave me the space I needed and in his own quiet way brought out the best in me by not asking me to be more than myself. As great as he was as a coach, he was even greater as a father. He read to us and sang to us and took us swimming and … took us to church.”
He is survived by his beloved wife of 62 years, Colette; brother, Jerry and wife Audra; sister-in-law Ruth; son Drew and wife Penny; daughter Chris Evert of Boca Raton; daughter Jeanne Dubin of Delray Beach; son John Evert and wife Mary of Boca Raton; daughter Clare Evert-Shane and husband Steven Shane; and 10 grandchildren — Anna, Lauren, Eric, Catie, Alex, Nicky, Colton, Siena, Tatum and Remi; and three great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his brothers, Jack and Chuck.
Visitation will be held Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Fred Hunter’s Downtown Fort Lauderdale Chapel, 718 S. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale, 33316. Visit www.fredhunters.com for more information.
A funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. Anthony Catholic Church, 901 NE Second St. in Fort Lauderdale.
Instead lof flowers, friends of the Evert family are asked to donate to the Jimmy Evert Scholarship Fund, which will provide tennis lessons and education for underserved children. Checks can be made payable to the USTA Foundation — Jimmy Evert Fund and sent to 70 W. Red Oak Ln., White Plains, N.Y., 10604.