Recently, Anna from Candlewick Press reached out to see if I was interested in doing a special cover reveal. Of course, I couldn't pass up revealing the cover for a new picture book biography celebrating tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.
Before I reveal the cover, here are a few words from Phil Bildner about his upcoming book, Martina & Chrissie: The Greatest Rivalry in Sports.
When we think of the greatest rivalries in the history of sports, we often think of boxers Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, facing one another in three epic showdowns for the heavyweight championship of the world in the 1970s. We think of basketball immortals Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, facing one another three times in the NBA Finals in the 1980s.
In tennis, we think of legends like John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg, who went head-to-head fourteen times and Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who squared off thirty-four times.
Yet none of those rivalries come anywhere close to the rivalry of Martina Navratilova and Chrissie Evert. They faced one another an astounding eighty times, fourteen times in grand slam finals.
But what made their rivalry so much greater than all the others went way beyond the grass courts of Wimbledon and the red clay of Roland Garros. What made their rivalry transcendent was the humanity of the combatants.
Earlier this month at the Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, we witnessed a rare moment of sportsmanship we're not quite used to seeing these days. During a qualifying heat of the women's 5,000 meters race, Abbey D'Agostino of the United States clipped Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand. Both runners fell to the track, and in an instant, lifelong Olympic dreams were dashed. But then the amazing happened. For the remainder of the race, Abbey and Nikki looked out for one another and made sure they both crossed the finish line.
That snapshot moment took place on the track, but it captured the essence of the Martina Navratilova and Chrissie Evert rivalry. Martina and Chrissie were fierce competitors, playing under the brightest lights and on the biggest stages. But they were also the best of friends, and in the world of sports where we often carelessly serve and volley phrases like "going to war" and "doing battle" and "fighting for your life," Martina and Chrissie never lost sight of their humanity and heart and the role of sportsmanship in competition.
That's what made their rivalry the greatest in the history of sports.
Now for the reveal.....
Isn't this a great cover? Absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to get in and see the illustrations in the finished copy and to read the story of Martina & Chrissie. Mark your calendar for March 2017 and pick up a copy of the book at your local indie bookstore.
About the book:
Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert come from completely different places and play tennis in completely different ways. Chrissie is the all-American girl: practiced, poised, with perfect technique. Martina hails from Czechoslovakia, a Communist country, and her game is ruled by emotion. Everything about them is different, except one thing: they both want to be the best. But as their intense rivalry grows, something else begins to swing into place, and a friendship forms that will outlast all their tennis victories. Phil Bildner and Brett Helquist tell the engaging true story of these two masters of the court as they win title after title — and, most importantly, the hearts of the fans.
About the author: Phil Bildner has written many historical picture books, including Marvelous Cornelius and The Unforgettable Season. His next book—the fascinating dual biography of tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, Martina & Chrissie—publishes on March 14, 2017. He lives with his husband in Newburgh, New York.
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