Tennis stars Evert, Davenport take swing at acting

BETH HARRIS Associated Press Published:

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Chris Evert and Lindsay Davenport are taking a swing at acting as guest stars on "CSI." Some script revisions were in order, though, when the retired tennis champions shot their scenes.

Evert, Davenport and tennis commentator Justin Gimelstob all play themselves on Wednesday's episode of the CBS series starring Ted Danson and Elisabeth Shue, a friend of Evert's.

According to Evert, the original script called for Davenport to find the body of a female pro player that sets the episode in motion.

Evert recalled thinking: "Oh my God, Lindsay has a scene where she has to act."

"She never likes attention," Evert said.

Davenport read the script and said, "I had a panic attack. I was like, 'There's no way.'"

By the time Evert arrived at Calabasas Tennis Club for filming, Gimelstob was being fingered as the suspect.

"Most things that come to me that are outside my comfort zone are things that I don't want to do," Davenport said. "You either have that personality or you don't."

Gimelstob egged both Evert and Davenport on, although Evert didn't need too much persuasion. She hosted "Saturday Night Live" in 1989 and played a commentator in the movie "Wimbledon."

Shue is a big tennis fan and urged the "CSI" writers to pen an episode involving the sport. She's played in Evert's charity event in Florida and the Hall of Famer said the actress' game makes her "one of the best women celebrities I've ever seen."

So who flubbed their lines?

"Oh my Lord, that's not a nice question," Evert said. "We came prepared. I don't know if we were any good. Justin probably took it more seriously than we did."

Evert said acting is relaxed compared to playing pro tennis.

"If you flub up your lines, you can do it five times. In tennis, there's no dress rehearsal. You play your match and that's it," the 18-time major champion said.

Shue's character interrogates Evert, and the two trade shots on the court in a scene that took a good part of their 10-hour day to set up and shoot. Cameras filmed each woman's side of the court at least 10 times and then pulled back to film the entire court.

"It was just like commentating. Like we do at Wimbledon, it's hurry up and wait," Evert said. "The first year I did commentating it was like, 'Whoa, this is a lot of doing nothing.'"

Davenport felt more comfortable once Gimelstob was taking the heat on camera.

"It was great to be able to play a tennis commentator on a show that I've loved and watched for years," she said.

Both Davenport and Evert have three children. Davenport's son and two daughters are 5 and under, while Evert's three sons are 16, 18 and 21.

Evert's sons all played high school tennis, and Davenport's son plays a couple times a week. But don't look for any of them on the pro tours.

"They're all like their father," Evert said, referring to ex-husband and former Olympic skier Andy Mill. "They like the extreme sports."