A winning tandem: ESPN tennis analyst Chris Evert guest stars on good friend Elizabeth Shue’s CSI show

When there’s a murder at a major tennis tournament, the detectives need to interrogate everyone who might know something. . . and on CBS’ CSI on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at 10 p.m ET/PT, that includes ESPN’s Chris Evert.

Evert plays herself — a former tennis great now commentating — and appears along with former stars Lindsay Davenport and Justin Gimelstob.

Evert, who is in Melbourne this week providing analysis during ESPN’s Australian Open coverage, told the Associated Press that acting’s challenges differ from the ones tennis present.

“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,” said Evert, who appeared as herself in the film Wimbledon and was once guest host of Saturday Night Live.

As we know, in Hollywood it’s all about who you know, and sure enough, Evert got the part because of her friendship with Shue. An accomplished high school gymnast in New Jersey, Shue has played a number of times in Evert’s annual celebrity tournament that raises funds for children’s charities.

“With the episode set at a tennis tournament,” Shue told Front Row, “the producers prayed professional announcers would be involved. I told them, ‘You have to call Chris.’”

This project together merged Shue’s passions, acting and tennis.

“I’m getting better,” she says of her game. “That’s what I like about tennis. If you put in the hours and hours and hours over 10 years — I’m obsessed! — you actually improve!”

Has Evert helped Shue’s game?

“Chrissie’s been very helpful. She gives me confidence and says my game has grown.”

That was important for one of Evert’s scenes, where Shue’s character, Julie Finlay, interrogates Evert about a suspect while they are on court, rallying.

“I was so worried about how I looked as a tennis player, I could barely remember my lines.”

And how does Shue assess Evert’s acting abilities?

“Chris is comfortable in front of the camera. She’s very ‘present’ and ‘in the moment’ and a good listener. The key to being an actor is listening.”

Here are a few behind-the-scenes highlights of Evert’s cameo on CSI.