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July 21, 2008

Martina Navratilova

THE MODERATOR: Any opening thoughts being out here?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I only played two matches, so my opening thoughts are from last week. No, it's nice to be back. It's a pretty decent setting here. We'll see what the crowd is like, but we're still battling for a place in the playoffs, so we're taking it pretty seriously.

Q. Talk about your experiences with World Team Tennis.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: All the experiences in all 19 years? How much time do we have? I just like the league because women and men contribute equally, which has always been a huge deal for me and the founder, Billie Jean King. And I just like the format, and the fact that every game counts is what I like. There's no putzing around. You can't just sort of say, well, I'm up already so it doesn't matter how I win. Every single game counts so it really makes you concentrate better. It makes tournament tennis really easy afterwards; it's like slow motion. You have to really concentrate keep your focus on every single point. You have to really pay attention, so it really brings you totally into the moment.

Q. What does it mean to you to be able to play at such a high level after all these years?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It's a bonus, a total bonus. It's been a bonus since I started playing again in 2000. I really have no right to be doing what I'm doing, but the body is willing and the mind is still able, so why not? I think most people stop because they can't do it anymore, and I obviously still can. Not at a level that I could 20 years ago, but still at a very good level.
It's nice to be able to compete and contribute to the team most of all. It's about the W at the end. I just want to be in the plus column of the games won and lost.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Trying to get in the playoffs. It's not who you play, it's really about getting the W. That's what I think league sport does to you. Players don't care about the personal stats as much as whether they won the game, you know? So you just want to contribute any which way you can.
And tonight is special for that reason, because we are trying to make the playoffs, and that's -- when you go into the season, you try to make it into the big dance, and anything can happen then. We're still in the hunt, so we'll give it a go.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Absolutely. I love it. It's funny because Leif Shiras and Corina Morariu are doing the telecast tonight, and I felt like I was back at the French Open because we worked together then. I'm like, wait a minute, I'm supposed to be behind the mike, not on the court. So it was kind of strange to switch roles back and forth.
I enjoy both very much, but I love doing the commentary because I feel like I'm teaching people about the game, and I love that. I love teaching. I love when people get it and they understand something better or help their game, their understanding of the game, so I really enjoy it.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Of course, yeah, men, women, oh, my God, how can they not comment on that? If I had that killer approach, I'd be there all day long. But most people cannot volley that well. I mean, I still volley better than most of the players on the tour. They just don't teach it right, and also, you don't have the opportunity, and it's just so much more difficult to do it well because of the heaviness of the ground strokes and all that. You have to really be a master of the net to be able to handle it. Still, a lot of people could come in a lot more because they're coming in on such killer shots. It's just the high volley put away. Yeah, I enjoy it but I get frustrated, absolutely.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Kind of in a lull, a little bit of a lull, no question, because nobody has really stepped up to the plate yet. But when you have the No. 1 player retiring suddenly, it'll leave a hole, especially after the year that Justine Henin had last year. It's like, imagine Roger Federer quitting; oh, my God, what do you do now? So we lost two giants of the game within like 12 months of one another, so that will leave a hole anywhere.
And the Williams sisters hadn't quite played up to par until Wimbledon, so maybe they'll step up to the plate and they'll be No. 1 and 2 at the end of the year, who knows? We don't know who is going to be No. 1 at the end of the year which is great, but still, the level at the top is not where it will be or where it has been.
Maria Sharapova played the best tennis of her career at the Australian Open and she hasn't repeated since. Then you have people like Kuznetsova, who has the capability but hasn't been able to step up to the plate at the big moments, either. So it's just kind of, who's going to step up? Somebody will, they just haven't yet. Maybe the US Open will be telltale. Ivanovic came through at the French but then she petered out at Wimbledon again.
It's been a very up-and-down year for all of them. It's anybody's ballgame. If I was in the top six I would look at it as a great opportunity because I can still be No. 1 at the end of the year. That's how you look at it.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I've always been a pioneer in the changing of the rules with the 30-second clock and no-ad system, no let, the challenge. We started in team tennis the challenging of the calls, and it's great to see so many of these rules adapted on the big tour. It's sort of a proving ground, testing ground for changes in the game, and I think it's been great for the game because it's pushed it forward.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Because I like it. You missed it. I love the format. I love everything about it.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I'll play some exhibitions, but for me it's not about -- it is about competition but it's about being able to put up good numbers and hold my own against the players and for the fans to still get something out of watching me play. If I was embarrassing myself, I wouldn't be doing it. I can still hold my own.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, well, the response that I've been getting, yeah, it's fun for them, so it's nice to be here. I mean, that's what really kept me going all these years when I kept going, one more year, one more year. The fans just said, you cannot retire, we have too much fun watching you. I had fun playing and they had fun watching me; it's a symbiotic relationship.

Q. (Indiscernible.)
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Make sure that you love the game and you do it for all the right reasons and practice just as hard as you play the match. Run for every ball, don't ever let the ball bounce twice. You can't do that in a match so don't do it in practice.

End of FastScripts

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