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June 24, 2004

Martina Navratilova


THE MODERATOR: Good evening, everybody. Can I present Martina Navratilova. Who would like to ask the first question.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: All the British press is watching the football.

Q. Can you just talk us through how things went from your point of view. Did you feel like your level maintained through the match?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, the best that I could, but the level wasn't as high as it could be, certainly. That's where I'm disappointed. Not that I lost, but that I didn't play my best tennis. But, I mean, the conditions were horrendous. But they were horrendous for her, too. So, you know, that's not an excuse. That just makes it more difficult to flow and get into a sort of a rhythm in a match. I mean, I lost -- I won the first set playing horrible. And just could never get on track for all kinds of reasons. So I'm just disappointed. I gave it my best shot, but I'm disappointed I didn't play my best tennis. Played much better in Eastbourne, the first round here. It was difficult out there. Very difficult.

Q. Do you feel emotional that it really is the end of singles now or did all of your emotion come in '94?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, no. Because, you know, I didn't really try to make a big deal out of the singles. Everybody else did, but not me. Practice is over. Now the real tournament starts for me. I mean, it was always about doubles and mixed. You know, now I'm ready to hopefully win one of those, or both. I'm looking forward to that. And, you know, it was nice while it lasted. Again, like I said, I'm disappointed that I didn't play better tennis because I know I can play better. And, you know, could have won the match, but didn't. And so that's that.

Q. Will you request a wildcard for the US Open?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I have no idea if I'm going to play singles there. That's so far away. We'll see. The hard courts are rough on the body. You know, the joints are not as good as they used to be, obviously. So I'm not sure how much I'm going to play on the hard courts, period.

Q. You say it wasn't about results, but you are so competitive. Once you did win so easily the other day, did your bar raise? Did you start maybe dreaming a little bit?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: My bar raised last week in Eastbourne when I beat a Top 20 player easily and split sets with the other one. So, you know, I played good tennis last week. It was not an accident, what happened here first round.

Q. Did fatigue have anything to do with what happened?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Excuse me. Fatigue? No, I could go play three more sets. Did I look tired?

Q. No.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Okay, then don't ask the question. No, I certainly wasn't tired. It was a long day, but, no, fatigue had nothing to do with it. I'm in good shape. But, now I forget what I was going to say.

Q. In your mind, did you all of a sudden start thinking, "Maybe I could do something"?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I knew I could win a few matches. You know, but... That's not a knock on women's tennis. I get really upset when I see, you know, one-hit wonder, one-Slam wonder Michael Stich criticizing the depth in women's tennis, that I won my first-round match so easily. How many games did Federer lose today in the second-round match? You know, Ivanisevic comes, wins two matches. He hasn't played for a few years. I'm not knocking the depth in men's tennis but they're quick to knock the depth of women's tennis. Look at how I hit the ball, not at the result. Not at the fact that I'm 47. But how do I play.

Q. Is that a knee-jerk reaction? Or do you think it's...

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Knee-jerk from what?

Q. The reaction of some of the men to your...

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think it's a sexist reaction. People will keep saying it about women, but they don't say that about men. Again, Michael Jordan comes back and kicks butt in the NBA. They're not questioning the level of NBA. If he plays against half of the players one-on-one, he would make him look silly. But they're not saying the rest of the NBA stinks. They're saying how amazing Michael Jordan is. Same thing in NHL. I mean, it just happens over and over. Want to talk about depth in women's tennis. Who did Venus Williams lose to today? Most of you guys don't know what Karolina Sprem looks like.

Q. No one would know more about the changes in -- the views towards women on the tour. Have things changed since the days of Vitas Gerulaitis saying he'd bet his mortgage? Have things changed or is it pretty much the same?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: We still don't get equal prize money. So they've changed some, but not enough, yeah.

Q. I think the reason my colleague brought up the fatigue question was the girl who beat you said she felt that after the first set you became both a little bit nervous and tiring and fatigued. I'm sure that's why he brought it up.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: She thought I was tired and fatigued?

Q. Tiring. Not tired. Tiring and fatigued. Of course she doesn't speak English as a first language. Can I have a comment on that. Also, Goran once again brought up the question of women's tennis a few moments ago in which he said that the week before the tournament starts, you pick five girls, they know they're going to come to the same quarterfinals, win 6-Love.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Didn't happen, did it? Venus Williams lost in the second round. She's won this thing twice. So...

Q. Yeah. But fatigue played no part in today?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, absolutely not. What played the part is I couldn't see the ball in the second set. There were two suns that I played against. There was the real sun and then there was the reflection off the building, off the Centre Court. I had never, ever played in conditions where the sun was that low and that bright - here or anywhere else.

Q. Didn't that apply to Dulko, too?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: She doesn't have to volley, does she? That's not an excuse. That is a --

Q. She didn't have to.


Q. My name is Joe Stall (phonetic).

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Where are you from?

Q. New Orleans, Louisiana.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, well, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Q. I'm glad you're interviewing me.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I'd like to know who I'm talking to. Most of these people I know.

Q. You're entitled to.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You I've never seen before. Thank you very much. No, she doesn't have to volley. She doesn't volley. She hits very well from the baseline. But when you are not seeing the ball, that will always handicap the person at the net more than the person on the baseline. If you notice, when I was on the far end, I was staying on the baseline a whole lot more than I was on the other side because I couldn't see the ball when I came in. Okay? So that is a handicap. However, she beat me fair and square. I'm not saying that's why I lost the match. But the second set, I didn't see a whole lot out there. Maybe that's why I looked nervous because I couldn't see the damn ball. But the third set she won fair and square. I have no excuses. I have no explanations, nothing whatsoever. She played better tennis and that was the end of it. She didn't have to volley and she beat me from the baseline. So there you go.

Q. Roger Federer said exactly the opposite of the other men you quoted right now. He says he has the greatest respect for you, for your comeback. You are one of his three best-ever athletes in the world. What do you say to that? What do you think of him?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I've been -- I've been asked who would I pay to watch play tennis, and Roger would be one of the few people that I would pay to watch tennis. He's an artist on the court and he's a very gentle, sweet man off the court and on the court. And that was a very nice thing that he said. You know, what can I say about him? I mean, I loved watching him play before. I love watching him now. My opinion of him doesn't change because of what he said about me, but it's a very nice thing to say. Most of the time when guys talk about athletes, they only talk about men. They don't talk about women. When women talk about athletes, they talk about both men and women. So it was just nice to have that. Apparently Michael Schumacher is a fan, as well. That's pretty cool when people like that think it's a good thing that I'm out here. Then I know it's a good thing I'm out here.

Q. For the record, Goran the other day went on and on about that you were his hero.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, really? (Inaudible) talking, I think. They're replaying that final set with Rafter. That was such a shame that both guys couldn't win. You like both of them so much. But definitely Goran, having been in so many finals, it was nice to see him win finally. But that's nice, you know. I think people that really know what they're talking about don't have a problem with me playing or winning or saying that it's bad for women's tennis. How can it be bad for women's tennis if I get out here and still play good tennis, still play good ball?

Q. Now, having played Dulko twice in about three weeks' time, two different surfaces, would you care to venture a guess as to the kind of career that she might have ahead of her, if she's 19?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, she was -- I was asked how do I feel losing that easily to a girl ranked 60-something. I thought she'll be Top 30 by the end of the year. She's on her way up. She's a very good talent. She's got good hands, good serve. And I have a hard time reading her balls. I mean, I really had -- I thought I knew where she was -- she liked to go normally. She changed her game plan against me. She played differently. I had a hard time reading her ball. She runs well and she does well under pressure - obviously. So I'd say she's Top 30 and maybe a lot higher later. I mean, she needs to, I think, beef up a little bit her game, to compete against the top, top players. But she's a better player than her ranking, for sure.

Q. How do you feel about the state of the women's game? Do you like where it's at right now?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, the only thing that worries me is the injuries, you know. I mean, the women's game has never been stronger when we get them all healthy. It's just we haven't had Serena and Venus play for almost a year. And now Kim and Justine, Clijsters and Henin are out. Who knows for how long. The NASDAQ tournament, we had seven out of the Top 10 not playing. That's what worries me. If they're healthy, women's tennis has never been better. No question about it. We have different personalties, different backgrounds, different styles of play. So, yeah, it's very good, if they just stay healthy.

Q. People are making a little bit of the fact Venus and Serena have different interests and they're acting and interior design. Some people feel that may well affect what's been going on on the court with them. Do you see that or do you think that's absurd?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I have no idea what their regimen is. I don't know what they train, what they do. They've always talked about all kinds of different things. They have varied interests in their life. And that's good. Instead of being like this. But does it get in the way? I don't know, because, again, I don't know how much they train. Do they talk about it more than they do it or what? How much time does it take away from their focus, etc.? So it's a fine line, you know, between being really focused and between being totally just brainwashed and that's all you do. So you want to venture out a little bit here and there. But then sometimes, you know, tennis suffers. So they're the only ones that know whether it gets in the way or not.

Q. When you're out there and you're in the moment and it's the middle of the match, did you feel today like you're the same -- I mean, is it the same exact feeling as 15, 20, 30 years ago, or is it any different? Or in that moment are you still the same Martina?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I hope not (laughing). I hope I evolved a little bit. But, you know, I know I don't play the same kind of tennis that I played. But in some ways I know I'm a better tennis player than I was then. I know more what to do. I know technically I'm more sound. I can do more things with my forehand, for example. I never had a forehand down the line. I was watching that match with Chris, and I couldn't hit a forehand down the line to save my life. Now it's almost my favorite shot. Because I've changed and evolved technically. But, you know, every once in a while I hit a shot. I'm like, "Okay, that's as good as it was 20 years ago." Doesn't happen that often, unfortunately.

Q. The other day you used the phrase "do what you love and love what you do." Could you talk about that phrase and passion. Is that a problem in our culture, that not enough people do that, do what they love.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I think people get caught up in what they're either supposed to do or what makes them more money. And neither one, if that doesn't make you happy, then you should be doing something else. I mean, money is a necessary evil, but I think, you know, we put too much emphasis on how much you make and what car you drive insttead of what's on the inside. So, but, that's how the world's going, isn't it?

Q. You've alluded a little bit to a couple of comments of male players. Does the greater game of tennis need the men's tour to stop sniping occasionally on a biannual basis or something, at the women's tour to succeed? Especially in the United States, tennis is really dropping off the radar screen, it seems.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, that's not gonna make -- bring it back on the radar screen. That's a minor part of some things that are not quite right. I mean, there were women players that sniped at me playing as well, not just the guys. I saw some quotes from Mauresmo and Emilie Loit about the French Open. They were so worried about the player that didn't get in because I got in. They probably don't know who that was, but they were worried about it. So, you know, people just get jealous, and they don't see things from both sides of the story, from their point and somebody else's. They just see it from their own viewpoint. And that's, I think, the biggest problem with anything, is that you only see it from your viewpoint and you don't look at it from the other person or the other country, and, you know, you go full steam ahead. As long as women and men do not pull in the same direction, we will have problems. And that's the only way to get ahead with the Grand Slams and with the ITF, is for the men, I believe, for the men and women to get together and say, "Look, this is what we want. This is what we should be getting. You better listen to us. Because without players, there is no Grand Slam. We can play tournaments elsewhere but Grand Slams will not be Grand Slams without the players." That is, to me, the way of the future. We need to recapture the bigger piece of the audience. There's so many other extreme sports, other sports, other things to do. We are swamped with entertainment. Tennis is losing a piece of the pie. So we need to try to regain it. And, again, the culture goes into so much if you're successful at something, right away, you want to do it. Tennis is a hard sport to succeed in. You know, it's hard to do it well from the beginning, and people just don't stick with it. But I think once they get hooked, once we bring them into the sport, then they'll stay there. It is a sport of a lifetime, but we need to get more people in that we perhaps lost and the new generation that's sort of going out skateboarding, snowboarding, whatever and say, "This is a great sport and you can do it for the rest of your life and you don't break bones either." So there's a lot of different ways of going about it. But, certainly, jealousy is not a way to move forward.

Q. What players do you like to watch playing tennis the most of the female players?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: There's Martina, but now she's not playing anymore. I think both the Williams sisters because of their athletic ability, and Justine Henin because of everything she does with the ball, and Kim because she's so happy on the court. It's great to see.

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