How did your friendship with Chris Evert begin?
"It kind of evolved over a long period of time. Little did we know when we first played each other in Akron, Ohio (in 1973), that this was going to turn into what it turned into. We've gone through a lot of different things together and it's nice that we were able to bring it full circle and end up closer than we ever thought we would. Now we're in a place where we're very comfortable with each other and the level of trust is something that's real special. It's a different kind of connection you don't have with anybody, whether it's your lover or wife or husband or whoever that special person is. It's unique and not something they write about in books."
You and Chris played 80 times but never at the Family Circle Cup, even though she won eight titles when the tournament was at Hilton Head and you won four. Kind of weird?
"Yeah. But in those days they were kind of splitting us up. If Chris played Hilton Head, I played at Amelia Island or vice versa. We couldn't all play all the tournaments. So if the tournament really needed one of us to play in it to be a success, we were purposely split up. But I know I played the tournament a few times when Chris was playing but it just ended up that we both didn't make it to the finals."
How often do you play exhibitions?
"I would like to play more often than I do, but there just are not that many opportunities on the women's tour. The French Open and Wimbledon have senior tournaments and that's about it. I guess I play about five to seven a year. Hopefully, maybe now that Chris wants to do this we'll get to play more."
How competitive are you in an exhibition match? Like, say, compared to a real tournament?
"For some players it's like they hate to lose. For me it has always been playing my best, in whatever sport it is. Like now when I play hockey I try to play the best I can. I equal competition with doing your very best every single time you hit the ball or hit the puck or whatever. I get my kicks out of that, because I'm just trying to get the best out of my body and myself."
What has your cancer diagnosis taught you about yourself and about life?
"I've learned a lot about the strength of women in general. And that cliche, that if you don't have your health you don't have anything. Everything else kind of takes a backseat. When I got the call that said, 'You're positive,' the world literally stopped. Then you kind of regroup, put things on hold and say, 'OK, what do I have to do to take care of my body?' "
You had a little scare in December on Mount Kilimanjaro with that high-altitude pulmonary edema thing. Any lingering problems?
"That was just a couple days in the hospital and then back to normal. That wasn't scary until afterward, really. I knew something had happened, I just didn't know what. But then I found out that if I had stayed up there another night I could have died and that was a little scary. But everything turned out fine."
You have been involved in a lot of charitable causes. Which ones are closest to your heart right now?
"People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which I've been involved in for a long time. Or my own thing that I've founded, Rainbow, which gives grants to gay and lesbian communities in this country. Or maybe Save The Rhino. Really, anything to do with animals is a good cause to me."
On your website there is a picture of you and the word "Prankster" underneath. What are your favorite pranks?
"Well, I like to make people laugh. But I don't have any elaborate pranks that I set up. Though I do like to make fun phone calls."
So you play hockey, golf and ski in Aspen. Do you snowboard, too?
"I do, but the snow hasn't been soft enough this year so I mostly have been skiing. But I like to go fast and snowboarding is better suited to that."
What is your handicap in golf?
"I don't have one because I don't play enough, but I'm told it would be about 16. I play bogey golf. I have fun."
John McEnroe, as you know, will play in the Family Circle Cup exhibition with you guys. What did you think of him as a player in his prime and how has he changed?
"I don't know if he's changed. He was a great player and he was fun to watch. He kind of just skewered people. Not much power but placed the ball where he wanted to. He was an artist on the court and one of a kind. It would be interesting to see how he would do now with the (automatic) line-calling system; he couldn't really argue anymore."