Newlywed Chris Evert Lloyd, undecided as to whether she should use her maiden or married name professionally, came up with a novel solution to the problem the other day. "When I win, call me Evert," she said. "When I lose, call me Lloyd."
In that case, Evert it is today, for the 24-year-old Floridian - winner of 135 of the last 136 matches she has played on clay courts over the past six years - dispatched eager but erring Dianne Fromholtz with consummate ease this afternoon to set up a meeting Saturday with another Australian, Wendy Turnbull, for the women's singles title of the French Open tennis championships.
The umpire referred to her as "madame Evert-Lloyd," but aficionados recognized her instantly as the Clay Court Chrissie of yore as she made left-hander Fromholtz pay dearly for impatience and won, 6-1, 6-3, in less than an hour.
Earlier on a chill, gloomy afternoon, with the 17,000-seat center court stands at Stade Roland Garros only about half full for the first all-women singles semifinals day here, Turnbull defeated Regina Marsikova, 6-4, 6-3, in a match as tedious and gray as the overcast skies.
Turnbull's chances of winning the $30,000 first prize cannot be considered great. She is winless in nine career meetings with Evert, including the final of the U.S. Open in 1977 and the semifinals last year.
The speedy 26-year-old Australian nicknamed "Rabbit" because of her quickness around the court, has won only two sets from Evert - both of those on grass, her favorite surface. On slow clay, which inhibits Turnbull's net-rushing instincts, Evert must be rated an almost prohibitive favorite.
"I enjoy playing Wendy because her game is very different than mine," said Evert. "She's a very exciting and aggressive player. She likes to serve and volley. That's a challenge for me, because its two contrasting styles. I think it will be a more interesting final than if we were both baseliners."
Evert is doing her best to drum up interest in women's tennis on the continent, where it has not been a popular attraction since the flamboyant Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen was the toast of the Riviera after World War I.
But to date, the women have not drawn well in their first season of separate events in Europe, apart from the men except at the French and Wimbledon. The women's Italian Open, for instance, attracted only about 5,000 spectators for the week at Rome's Foro Italico, while the men two weeks later drew 66,000 paying customers.
The reasons appear to be both cultural and artistic. The long-established lack of interest is undoubtedly due, at least in part, to the fact that the women's game on slow clay courts tends to be boring, a much less satisfying spectacle than women playing on faster grass, cement or indoor courts.
"I was a little surprised that they gave the women their own semifinal and final days here," said Evert, who also had to be disappointed that the stadium, which had been packed virtually every day of the tournament, was so empty today.
"In the past when I played semifinals here, I always followed a men's match. I guess it will take time for the women to draw on their own here.
"But I think it's nicer for us when just the women play. It seemed like I was always on after (Bjorn) Borg or somebody like that and they're so exciting on this surface, it was a tough act to follow. The crowd really got excited, and then they weren't so happy with the women. This way it's easier on the mind."
Unfortunately, today's matches did little to stoke what latent interest does exist here in women's tennis. Both were uninspiring, and many spectators departed when word spread that Jimmy Connors and Vitas Gerulaitis were practicing on an outside court.
There were 12 service breaks in 19 games of the Turnbull-Marsikova match, which was dominated more by errors than winners.