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October 26, 2015
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for coming to the Legends All‑Access Hour. After a huge success last year, the Legends Classic is back at the WTA Finals this year with an amazing field, as you can see.
The event features one round robin group where over the course of three pro set doubles matches Tuesday to Thursday, each of the four players will play with and against one another, earning points as individuals.
The players this year are four‑time Grand Slam champion and Legend Classic Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.
2013 Wimbledon champion and the defending Legends Classic champion, Marion Bartoli.
MARION BARTOLI: Whoo hoo. That sounds really weird. I feel different pressure. God.
THE MODERATOR: Former No. 1 and two‑time US Open winner, Tracy Austin.
TRACY AUSTIN: That's me.
MARION BARTOLI: Whoo hoo.
THE MODERATOR: And last but of course not by no means least, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles and an all‑time record 31 Grand Slam doubles titles, Martina Navratilova.
MARION BARTOLI: Do we have to say that. Do you really have to say that? That deserve a round of applause as well.
THE MODERATOR: Before I open things up to the floor I'll ask you a few questions, if you don't mind. Arantxa, you're the newbie, but you're not a newbie to Singapore, are you? You were here many, many moons ago in your early tennis career.
ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO: Well, was my first international overseas tournament in WTA, so I was here in 1986 the first time, and I didn't go back until now.
So it's way back, but it's nice to be back. I always feel that it's always great to have so many fans here and to get back to this wonderful tournament here. You know, WTA Finals, I had good memories when I play in Madison Square Garden for many years there.
Happy to be here for the first time and play here and see my colleagues again and have a good time on the court. And spectators as well can enjoy the matches.
THE MODERATOR: Tracy and Martina, you played two finals together back when it was at Madison Square Garden. Tracy, what are your memories of those two?
TRACY AUSTIN: I don't actually remember the finals. I saw the scores and they're almost identical scores. I won one in the third set and Martina won one in the third set.
I just remember feeling that Madison Square Garden had a special ‑‑ it was just so unique. You felt that it had such a rich history. When you walked in you saw all the entertainers on the walls, the pictures of the entertainers who were there. Ringley Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus and all the acts that were there.
You just felt like if only the walls could talk. I loved playing that event. That WTA Finals in Madison Square Garden was there for many years. I think it was there for over 20 years. So therefore, it really got a great following there because people in New York who obviously, with the US Open there, they're so knowledgeable about tennis. They set aside that week to get tickets and come watch the top eight ladies in the world play.
It was always very full and had a great atmosphere and had a rich history as well. Playing Martina there, the carpet was pretty fast. I remember Arantxa and I were talking that the courts here are much slower. I mentioned that I wished they were a little slower back in Madison Square Garden. The carpet then the ball really slid through the court.
But it was great. It was great to play there. And again, I love the round robin system as well. It gave you unique opportunities. Even if you lost the match ‑‑ there was a time in one of those round robin events where I lost and still game back and won the event.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, you lost to Chris and then you beat her.
TRACY AUSTIN: Yeah, I lost to Chris in a third set. She got the day off and I had to go back and play another three setter and played her the next day.
MARION BARTOLI: Do you remember which outfit you were wearing? Seems like it's really fresh in your memory.
TRACY AUSTIN: No, I don't remember the outfit, but I do remember having to play her twice in a week. Yeah, it was great. Great to be part of the WTA Finals here in Singapore. Love it.
Q. I think one of those finals was in New Jersey. The championships were in New Jersey.
TRACY AUSTIN: At the Meadowlands.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yes.
TRACY AUSTIN: The two we played were at Madison Square Garden.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't know, but I know we played in Jersey also in December. It was funny playing ‑‑ when you play in amazing places like Wimbledon, French Open, you feel the tennis history.
But in the Garden, as Tracy alluded to, there was history of everything. Sports, of course with the basketball, hockey there, and a lot of boxing fights. I think Ali fought there as well and the acts with Elton John and Madonna.
TRACY AUSTIN: Neil Diamond.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Bee Gees in the '70s, and then you play tennis in the same arena where Robin Gibb was singing a week before.
Different vibe completely. Very unusual. You get a little bit of that here. Starting the new history here in the Sports Hub where it's not just a tennis facility. You have other sports and other acts. So we're kind of one of those acts, and it's pretty cool to be part of that. Making new history here.
THE MODERATOR: Marion, you've played the Finals at three different venues. How does Singapore compare to Madrid and Istanbul?
MARION BARTOLI: Well, I think the fans for the first year were absolutely incredible last year. I think it's great having a little bit of everything in here. You have the Future Star, the Rising Star, the Legends, the current players. You have more doubles players as well. Just really feel more for o a tennis feast.
There is a lot more player involved, therefore people have a chance to discover more about women's tennis in general. I felt really before it was the cream of the cream, but it was just a little bit too much of a very, very small elite.
Unless you come up to a city which is really having a huge tennis history or background such as Madrid, otherwise it makes it very difficult for new people who wants to discover tennis to have really a view globally.
I think having the WTA come up with the ideas of mixing the new generation, the past, and the current generation, such an amazing idea. I obviously adore my time last year. I think the fans really embrace the fact that they are having to see different tennis.
Serena against Simona as well as us coming up on court as well as new stars from the Asian regions playing as well.
I just felt in here, if tennis could have been there for ten days, it would've been full for ten days. It was definitely a lot shrinker in the other cities.
THE MODERATOR: Questions from the floor then, please.
Q. Tracy, seems like quickly you might become Brandon's mother and maybe not Tracy Austin.
TRACY AUSTIN: I am. I'm looking forward to that someday.
Q. Talk about that. I know at the US Open we talked. He didn't have a coach during the summer, but you were like, That's okay. I think he won his first singles. Am I right?
TRACY AUSTIN: Yeah. It's very exciting times. My son Brandon is a 17 year old who is very serious about tennis, and he got to the finals of the US Open doubles in jurors.
I'm very much looking forward to the day when I'm Brandon Holt's mom. That's going to be special.
But, no, on a serious note, he just played his like third ITF juniors and he was a wildcard, so obviously unseeded. He went through and won the title in singles and doubles. He went from 658 in the world to 137 in juniors in one tournament.
So he's pretty inspired. Kind of opened my eyes, because we really have kept it on the down low and kept it very‑‑ he's still in school. All the kids he plays against are not in school. Little tidbit. Yesterday he flew to Florida to do a ten‑day camp with USTA with Ivan Lendl and Jez Green. That's pretty exciting times for him.
I figured you got to miss school for that, because Ivan Lendl has a lot of knowledge and a lot of insight on how to play on clay as well. Very exciting time.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Cranking up for the US Open, because we played the Legends also, and Tracy, all she was doing was keeping up the score. She didn't want to go watch the matches of Brandon playing, but she was getting all excited about his matches of course.
Then the other day I saw her and she had Asics gear on. Oh, you got a deal with Asics? No, I'm just wearing my son's clothing. (Laughter.) That's his line. So now she's supporting him by wearing his stuff.
MARION BARTOLI: Tennis mom.
TRACY AUSTIN: I am a tennis mom. I was in the locker room and Martina, we were going to play doubles against each other, and we were following on the court after Brandon was playing. He was playing a third‑set match tiebreak. I was watching, and all of a sudden he won 10‑8 and then I screamed.
Martina was like, Settled down, settle down. I'm like, Martina, this is more important than our match. I would rather him win.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: She was so excited she won. Beat us in the doubles.
Q. I guess I'll direct this to you Martina, and then I would love for someone else to jump in. Steve Simon has just taken over for the WTA. I guess if there were one thing that you would see as his first order of business or in his first 100 days a move that he would make...
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Ask me that Thursday, because I'm going to have dinner with Steve on Wednesday. I want to pick his brain and vice versa. I still think overall we see the number of injuries and withdrawals is still too high.
You got to think long‑term. Maybe it's great to have all these tournaments, but at the end of the day, if you don't have enough players playing, you got a problem.
So I still think for me it probably would be the length of the calendar that's a long‑term project. I know Stacey Allaster has been working on that already. I was talking about that 35, 30 years ago. The season is too long.
We played in December the season‑ending championship. So it's better, but I think something still needs to be done.
Q. Arantxa, there is a lot of attention on Garbine at the moment, first Spanish woman to qualify in singles since you did. What's the reaction like back in Spain, and how much pressure do you think is on her to try and maybe follow in your footsteps, and Conchita?
ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO: Well, obviously it's great expectations, and really happy that finally after long period that me and Conchita, you know, way back now we have Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro. We have two. We're really happy.
The expectations, obviously they want comparations, but we think it's different. We really have to enjoy the moment. They're both young and they are getting really well in the calendar in the WTA.
They're playing a lot because they have to, and they adapt as well her game, especially Carla, as well, to be able to a little bit more aggressive.
And Garbine has the game that loves the power, the powerful game for today. She's very tall and very big. She likes to play against the best players always.
So she maybe needs more continuation to do better in all the tournaments, but expectations are great in Spain. I'm really happy and excited to watch her play here. She did very well now after Wimbledon, and in China.
She's definitely one I think of the favorites to win here. Hopefully we'll see how to goes. As I say, round robin anything can happen because you have a chance. Lose a match you can still win it.
I love the way she plays and her mentality. She's a great player and person. I'm really happy. I mean, we have the long wait. Was good, but now we have two players. It's excellent.
Q. The top eight here, who's the most impressive person right now? Obviously Serena is not playing.
TRACY AUSTIN: Who's the most impressive?
MARION BARTOLI: In term of level or anything?
Q. The top here. Halep? Sharapova?
TRACY AUSTIN: It's been an interesting fall because there have been so many injuries. Simona had issues. Obviously she played some but didn't have great results and then got injured.
Then you had Petra who was dealing with mono. You could just go down the line.
Then you had Aga won two titles and got to the semifinals. She really came in in‑form and played last night against Maria who hasn't played a complete match since July. I was thinking ‑‑ Aga was down 12‑2 head to head. I thought this might be a chance for her to get Maria.
Maria Sharapova came out and didn't have much rust. I as very impressed the level she played at for not having played many matches for a long time.
You just can go right down the line.
Kerber has played a lot. She has been consistent. She had a rough part of the season where she lost a lot of matches in a row.
What's interesting about the payers now, and Garbine, obviously, she's done well. What's interesting is just the consistency level. So many of these players today, I just find the consistency level is so up and down.
You have players that have won one or 2 titles that are here and qualified, where I remember so many years in the past where players would be more consistent. I would love to know why there is lack of consistency. Is in more depth? Is it they feel more pressure? It's just an interesting time where there is so many‑‑ ‑‑ even Garbine who got to the finals of Wimbledon, and then she struggled in the summer. They seem to feel the pressure.
Martina, what do you think?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't know why there is so much turnover, so much more turnover within top 10, top 20, top 50.
Players fluctuate so much more than in my time. Yes, there is much greater depth, no doubt. But still doesn't explain the level of fluctuation. On the guys you don't really see it that much. You see it much more on the women's side.
I'm not sure. Be an interesting thesis for somebody. You guys should do it. That's your job.
MARION BARTOLI: I can jump on that. I think I've been retired quite recently, and you can definitely feel a lot more players are getting a lot more professional and a lot more players traveling with a huge structure. Not only the top 10 anymore who have trainers and coaches and who are really getting into the best shape they can possibly be.
As a player, when you just arrive on the scene and have these great results, turns out when you have to defend those, the margin between winning and losing becomes tinier and tinier.
When you stop that sort of confidence moves when you play so many matches in a row and when you have to stop that because you have a great result such as Garbine in Wimbledon, you have all the media attention all of a sudden. Obviously media coverage of the WTA expand as well, so you do more and more media.
You do less and less on court thing and training for your sport. And then the other ones are doing the opposite. They get ready to beat you. You feel when you come back it's almost like you have to start it all over again.
I remember when at 22 I made the final of Wimbledon, losing to Venus, I went into the next tournament in Stanford and I was like, Hold on one second. Can I go back and play at Wimbledon again because just not the same what was going on.
So I feel the combination of everything makes the results very erratic of everyone of us. Serena is the most consistent one. Now she's injured. She can't play. That comes back then to the circuit.
But I think overall for this tournament I would put Simona Halep performance really, really high yesterday. She literally was just flying on the court. She was really flawless.
Q. She hasn't played very well at the Grand Slams this year.
MARION BARTOLI: Yeah, but she openly spoke about the pressure. She felt she just couldn't endure all the results she had to defend. The good thing is she noticed that.
It's one thing to have a situation noticing what's happening. Once you notice what's happening and the problem, you're already in the good path to finding a solution.
I think she probably having the help of Darren Cahill and Virginia Ruzici, who has been a professional player.
They been putting here into the shoes of someone to win slam, and someone who's looking to win a slam every time she enter a draw. She was probably not feeling that way when she has to defend those points.
It's one thing to feel you have to defend something; it's another thing to feel you can win a tournament every time you enter it. That's something Maria Sharapova is so good at doing. Even though she hasn't play, she hasn't played a match, I'm sure when she step on the court yesterday she had no doubt she will come out as a winner. That shows.
TRACY AUSTIN: For me, I'm usually pretty bold in picking somebody that I think, even if I'm wrong.
MARION BARTOLI: Come on, Tracy, pick someone.
TRACY AUSTIN: I feel it and I just can't feel it. We usually pick from recent past history. I can't predict.
ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO: You have to pick someone.
MARION BARTOLI: Come on, Tracy.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: The fluctuation still to me are baffling because, yes, all those points that Marion made are very valid, but then you get the players that were No 1, Wozniacki, Ivanovic, Jankovic, go from 1 to 30 and back to top 10. That is what's baffling.
It's the levels of the fluctuation that are astonishing. Again, you don't see it on the men's side. That would be an interesting topic to pursue more.
As far as this week‑‑ well, yesterday I predicted that Radwanska had a great chance of beating Sharapova, and the longer the match goes the better chance she has. It went completely the other way. So much for expert opinion. (Laughter.)
The court being as slow as it is and Halep playing as well as she is, I think this is her way of really salvaging the year. I would have to put her the s the favorite.
Although, all things being equal, Petra Kvitova plays her best tennis, she should win just every tournament she plays. Talk about fluctuation. Once again...
TRACY AUSTIN: Petra on a good day can beat anybody; on a bad day she can be shocking.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: And this court is pretty slow. You to have hit a couple extra shots. I would have to say combination would be, for me, Simona would be the favorite. Not just on paper but in real life.
Q. Being the only Italian here, I hope you don't mind if I ask you‑‑
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Talk about the US Open?
Q. ‑‑ about if you were surprised about what happened at the US Open. That's one thing. The second thing is what do you think, all of you, about Pennetta? How surprise you were, all of you, for the final at the US Open with the 2 Italians, and Pennetta here she is 33 years old? This is another different thing with the men. There are a lot of men who are more than 30 years still playing, Federer Ferrer and others. Tonga. Then the women, all much younger. Here Pennetta is the only one above 30 year old.
TRACY AUSTIN: Li Na was over 30.
Q. Serena as well.
MARION BARTOLI: Venus.
TRACY AUSTIN: Schiavone won late 20s or maybe 30. A lot of first‑time Grand Slam champions that are late 20s early 30s. And the answer to your question is, yes, it was a big surprise.
Roberta Vinci, her record going into the US Open was about 500. Definitely not going to be picking someone that has a 500 record to get to the finals of the US Open and along the way beat Serena Williams who is going for the calendar year Grand Slam.
That was a huge surprise. And Flavia as well. Flavia had some decent results, but I think she had 2 or three quarters where her best results‑‑ look at her results for the year she won the US Open, and then she has 2 or three quarters that were her highlights of the year. That was a huge surprise.
Flavia as a person is just so beautiful. Such a beautiful heart. Such a warm human being. You see it in the locker room, and to me it's worth mentioning. Some players can be pretty frosty. She just says hi to everybody. Huge smile on her face. I think the world fell in love with her and Roberta actually, the way they were so warm and the way they interact well with each other.
I was happy for Flavia because she's had such a long career. That really was unexpected. She was about to retire. And then to win the US Open and go off and retire and get married and have babies, it's the best way. Very happy for her.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Especially the having babies part.
TRACY AUSTIN: She said that in the locker room, too.
MARION BARTOLI: I don't know. She's playing her last tournament, Flavia, so obviously it's not an easy situation coming into a tournament knowing it's going to be your last matches and you're having all your family with you.
I was commentating for her yesterday and they were having footage of her mother next to the court. You can feel the tension of her mother. She just want Flavia to have a nice run for her last matches.
Just as Tracy said, I played with her. We played 15 years together. I know her since we are 15, 16. She always had this amazing backhand, and always been this girl that can really counterpunch.
Do you see her as a Grand Slam champion? Not really. But it's amazing and a great story to see that you're playing against Serena Williams and all those great champion, you still have the chance if you really strive for your dream ti fulfill it at some point.
I almost cry when I she won because I just felt really it's such a great example of perseverance, of just trying your hardest every single day. She had a new coach later in her career. She really try everything to make a Grand Slam, and she got it at the end. I think it's a very inspirational message, especially for the young players.
We are here with young players, young stars. There is a possibility for everyone. It's a beautiful thing about our sport. Everyone get the chance every single week to win. I was just so happy for her. I just hope for her last one she's not going to put too much pressure on herself and she will be able to enjoy her last tournament.
You don't want to walk out having three really bad losses. I am sure she will enjoy her life afterwards.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I did cry after she won. It was fantastic. Yeah. I was so happy for her. And nice to see a one‑handed backhand in the finals again.
Q. Martina, you mentioned Simona. She's playing Maria tomorrow and she's 0‑5 against her. Just wondering what do you think her chances are, and what does she need to do differently to try and turn that around?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I haven't seen the results or the patterns of what has happened in the past, but I can imagine that she's just playing too passively. This surface, you want to hang back because you can run down so many balls. That is her game. She's been trying to be more aggressive this year and has done it well at times.
She needs to stay with the defense when it calls for it, but still make herself get inside the court more and not let Maria dictate. Because Maria will be playing better and better as the week goes.
She is fresh, she's happy to be here, she's healthy finally, so she's not feeling any pressure. So Simona needs to, I think, get out of her comfort zone a little bit and get closer to the baseline.
MARION BARTOLI: It was the close match the final of Roland Garros.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Right. So she's got it in her to win. I'm surprised it's 0 and 5. Eventually she will get that monkey off her back, I'm sure.
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