Chris Evert Champions Addiction Causes

By McCarton Ackerman 10/26/12

The tennis ace has raised over $20 million for addiction charities through an annual event that takes place again this weekend.

Evert wanted a more compassionate attitude.
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Former tennis champion Chris Evert was known as the "Ice Maiden" during her playing days, but there's nothing chilly about her enthusiastic support for drug addiction charities in South Florida. The 24th installment of the Chris Evert Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic kicks off tomorrow, featuring several former champions playing doubles with celebrities including Bush frontman Gavin Rossdale, comedian Jon Lovitz and Real Housewife Jill Zarin. Matt Lauer, Chevy Chase and President G.H.W. Bush have participated in previous years. "It wasn't getting compassion and sympathy," says Evert of drug abuse and addiction issues. "I was an athlete; I had no drug problems, but that's not to say people that I love [didn't have drug problems]. We said, 'Let's be proactive.' I always believed that people make mistakes and everybody deserves a second chance." Since the annual event began in 1989, over $20 million has been raised for addiction-related charities. 

Evert may have escaped addiction herself, but there was a timely reminder this week that many other tennis pros haven't. Current player Claudine Schaul, who was the flag bearer for Luxembourg at the 2004 Olympic Games, was arrested for trafficking cocaine. She says she sold the drug out of her car with two accomplices, one of whom was her boyfriend, while also taking it herself to minimize pain from ongoing injuries. It's safe to say that trafficking was her main source of income: ranked as high as No. 41 in the world in 2004, she's since fallen to No. 775 and only earned $3,650 in prize money so far this year. She admits that she was "scared but relieved" when police showed up at her door, but now faces up to 20 months in prison.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.