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February 1, 2004

Leander Paes

Martina Navratilova


THE MODERATOR: Questions for the team, please.

Q. What do you think you might be doing this time next year if not playing tennis?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I'd like to do some TV work. I really enjoy commentating. It's much easier talking about it than doing it. And maybe get involved with the game on the political level, you know, get involved with the WTA or the game of tennis more at a political level. We'll see how things pan out. But, you know, I'd like to make my contribution off the court.

Q. Talk about what happened from 4-2 there in the second. It was a pretty nice surge, then they kind of reeled you in at the end it seemed like.


LEANDER PAES: Yes, it was a good surge coming back there. We were pretty much staring down the barrel at that stage. Managed to get a few things going together. Even though we started off kind of slow, we managed to combat their path. They were basically hitting everything as hard as they could today and it was pretty much all coming in. We put ourselves in a good situation at 4-5 and then at 5-6 with them serving. The tiebreak, we had a bit of a lull again, you know, got behind the eight ball at 6-1 down really. So, I mean, overall looking at it, it's been a great week. But came up a bit short today. You win some, you lose some, don't you.

Q. Were you thinking at that 2-4 point where things weren't going so well, "I'm not going out like this in Australia"?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I wasn't thinking that. I just wanted to, you know, keep plugging away because stranger things have happened. And we almost pulled it off. I mean, we were two points from winning the set, ended up in the second set. But 15-30, two great serves, there the chance went. But, yeah, you want to go down swinging and fighting. And we did that. So, you know, we could have just said, "Too good," just packed our bags. But that's not my style. It's certainly not Leander's style. It's nice that we at least mounted a short comeback. Couldn't sustain it. We started too late. But, you know, they played well. They didn't give us much. We had to create something. We created it, then they slammed the door shut again.

Q. Big serves?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Big serves, yeah. They both served well. I saw one second serve from her and I think three from him. So too tough.

Q. Are you nervous in the first set?

LEANDER PAES: Not nervous, no. I think I got off to a very ordinary start today. I came up, first game I didn't make one return. Martina made a couple and, you know, kept getting us back to 15-All, 30-All, but I couldn't get that return down. Second game, me serving, I didn't get a first serve in. I think it's one of those days where I just didn't start as well as I normally like to. I tried to claw my way back, I tried to get back into my reserves and find a way through that, you know, mush that was really happening out there. In the second set, we did. We did find a way back. But I think that our opponents, coupled with the fact that we had a slow start - or rather I had a slow start - our opponents were pounding in serves. Nenad was serving at 180, 201, 203. A lot of his first serves were coming in. Even Bovina was serving really well, playing really well. So I was struggling in the beginning today, yeah, in the first set.

Q. Do you think Bovina and Nenad are good combination for the future?

LEANDER PAES: Of course.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Obviously. Mixed is funny. It happens quite a bit where unseeded teams win, teams that never played together before, they win a Grand Slam. Of course, you only play the Slams. You don't play mixed doubles any other time. So it's not unusual to see this. I'm sure they'll be playing now the rest of the year. They should. They make a good team. They're tall. It's hard to get the ball by them. If Nenad keeps playing like that, they'll be a force every time.

Q. You've left a lot of these courts before. This time for sure it's the last time. I'm wondering what's going through your mind? Anything go through your mind when you left this time?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Really wanted to go on a winning note. Losing in a final really stinks. It's almost better to lose earlier. But at the same time, it's nice to be on that stage and be able to say good-bye properly. You just want to do it on a winning note. But we went down fighting, so that's all right. We went down swinging. I'm not saying good-bye to Australia, I'm just saying good-bye to playing tennis here. But, like I said out there, I love this country. I'm sure I'll be back many, many times. I'd love to do TV here, whether it's for Channel 7 or the American network or whoever. But, you know, I'm not saying good-bye to tennis. I'm just saying good-bye to hitting the ball here. I still have a whole year to go. But last year everybody wanted to know, "Are you going to come to defend your championship?" Well, I didn't think so. We ended up coming back, playing a whole year again. But it's like after the first match here, people are saying, "Are you coming back next year?" I'm like, "Just enjoy this time. Don't think about next year." Because eventually they'll be disappointed. So I had a great run here. We had a great run. Most of all I'm thankful that Leander can play again. In August we were wondering whether he was going to be alive this time. So that puts it all very much into perspective. You know, we have this time together. So we'll just count our blessings. We have three more together hopefully.

Q. Can you talk about where this tournament has come since your first trip here, where it's at now, how you feel about the way it's got its place back?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I mean, it's the top four. It's hard to put them into sequence of importance. But it's getting bigger and bigger. The crowds certainly support it. The TV is supporting it. It's difficult in America with the time change and everything to get the tennis out there. That's where it gets hurt more than anything. But in the world of tennis, this is a very strong Grand Slam. It's not, you know, a poor cousin. The tournament's come a long way. It still can improve in some areas, and I will talk to Paul about some ideas that I have. But overall, it's excellent, yeah. I think they just get a little carried away with the security. But other than that, high marks.

Q. You've obviously enjoyed your time with the mixed doubles. Would you be willing to encourage many other high-profile people like yourself to extend their careers a little more by getting involved in the mixed doubles?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I was playing mixed when I was playing singles and doubles. I played all three events quite a bit. So I think for singles players, if they don't want to play doubles, mixed doubles is still a good way to still play a few sets and get competitive and improve their games. Doubles helps your singles, singles helps your doubles. They're not mutually exclusive. So I would encourage -- if I had a player that I was coaching, I would definitely encourage them to play mixed. For the guys, it's good to hit against the women, to realize, "Hey, they're better than I thought they were." And for the girls, for the women, it's great to be seeing a ball you don't normally see and get out of your comfort zone and then come and play singles. It's like, "Okay, I saw a harder ball than this. I can manage this one." So I would definitely encourage my people, my players, to do that.

Q. After the first Slam of the year, can I get your thoughts on the women's game, what you sort of expect to see the rest of year?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I expect to see the Williams sisters back a little stronger. I hope that Serena will get healthy and will come back in full force - and Venus. The game needs them. If you lose two of the biggest stars of the game, the game suffers. As great at Justine Henin has been playing, there's an asterisk because really Serena lost the No. 1 ranking by not being around, not by losing it to someone. So you want her to come back and contend for it. That's where the strength of the game is, is in all the stars playing at the same time. So we need the girls back. Jennifer, as well. Potentially, it's fantastic. But we have too many ailing players at the moment. We need to get them healthy and the game is in great shape.

Q. Leander, in the next couple of Slams, you obviously are going to lose your very good partner. Are you going to have your eyes open scouting for someone to take her place next year?

LEANDER PAES: First of all, I'm going to enjoy every bit of playing with Martina. I can assure you that regardless of who else is out there, I will not be able to replace Martina for what she is, both on and off the court, to me. I haven't even thought of that yet, to be honest. I'm just enjoying every single match out there. I'm so engrossed in the moment of actually getting myself into good shape, getting myself back on the tennis court, making sure I can give her that support, which I didn't quite do so well today. But the French Open, Wimbledon, US Open, whatever, every match is a great experience. You know, when you actually get the opportunity to spend time with the legend, you actually get to see why she's so good. For me, coming back after what I've just been through, I can see as to what motivates her, I can see as to why she was so good. Going through all the things that Martina had to go through, she found her way to be the best that she can be. And that's a great inspiration for someone like myself. Every day is a new learning day. I just keep my eyes open, my ears open, and pick up on little tricks that makes Martina Martina.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I'm sure Leander will have the women scrambling asking to play mixed with him.

THE MODERATOR: We'll interrupt for a moment. Tournament director Paul McNamee will make a special presentation to Martina.

PAUL McNAMEE: This represents the moment when you won the full set of Grand Slam titles, singles, doubles and mixed, at all four Grand Slams, which happened year last year. Martina is the only player in the modern game to have completed that feat, to have won Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed at all four Grand Slams. Since this is your last main draw match here at this tournament, you've been a true champion, absolute pleasure to host here, arguably the greatest female player of all time. You got three Australian Open singles, eight doubles, a mixed doubles - you've done it all here, Martina. It's a privilege to have been part of your era and to have shared something with you, as well.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Thanks, Paul. We won one, too, didn't we?

PAUL McNAMEE: We did, yes.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You know what? I need to ask you for another one of these. Because there it is, I would not have made that full set if it wasn't for Leander. I think I'm going to give him this one.

PAUL McNAMEE: No problem.

THE MODERATOR: We can continue with questions.

Q. We have in Stockholm where there's a ladies tournament this summer, will you be there?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I have no idea. I haven't looked that far in my schedule yet, but it's possible. I'll have to see how it works with the Olympics and also if I'm playing Fed Cup. I have no idea what my summer schedule will be like. I really just know up to Wimbledon. I'm going to have to take a look. But I'd love to play in Stockholm. Never played a tournament there. Been in Stockholm many times. My sister lives there. But I've not played there. It would be a great -- I love playing places for the first time. So why not?

Q. What does she do, what is her occupation?


Q. Her name?


End of FastScripts….

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