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January 21, 2004

Martina Navratilova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Have you acquired any more puppies on this trip?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, sort of, yeah. It was a gift from my trainer and her fiancee. We got a black pug this time.

Q. Whereabouts?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: What do you mean whereabouts?

Q. Here in Melbourne?


Q. A black what?


Q. Why did you decide that this is your last season?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, there is a lot of reasons. But mainly I think when I first signed up, I didn't think I was going to do it for five years. But mostly because I really have gotten to that point where I wanted to get to and finally really playing the kind of tennis that I thought I could get to, so I want to keep it going a little bit longer but, you know, not take it too far. I think it's a great year for me to end up on. I have a great team working with me, with Giselle. I'm working full-time time with Stefan Ortega. I've been hitting a lot more tennis balls. With the Olympics, really pushed me over the edge. Playing with Lisa Raymond and Leander Paes, it doesn't get any better than that for me. It just seems like a perfect culmination. You know, I think it just feels right. Most of all, I want to just spend time with friends and family and give some time back to the people that have supported me through this and put their career on hold. Now I can hopefully repay that debt. And it's the year of the monkey. You know, I was born in '56. This is the year of the monkey. So all signs are pointing the right direction. This should be the end. So I'm happy with it. Intend to really have a good time. It's funny, I was walking off the court, and somebody said, "Are you going to be here next year?" I'm like, "I just played my first round match. Enjoy this week," (laughing). "No, I won't. I might be here, but, I won't be playing."

Q. Could you talk more generally about the issue of drugs in tennis and why does the women's game not seem to have the same problem with vitamin supplements that the men's has?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think our trainers are very, very careful about what they give us. They're really paranoid about what they give us. I think the only drinks that they support are any kind of a powder drink, is Gatorade, which I don't drink because it gives me a bellyache. I've been using the same stuff for about 10 years now and I haven't tested positive yet, so I think I'm all right, even though it's not really an approved drink. You have to take your chance, because that stuff gives me a bellyache. I can't drink that. You can't just survive on water. You know, it's a calculated risk that I think a lot of players take because not everybody can drink just that one thing. Unfortunately, that's the only one that's guaranteed. They're the only company, they don't make any other drinks that, you know, could be problematic with the drugs -- drug testing. Maybe none of the women ever have done drugs. I don't know. I don't know anybody that I would, you know -- suspecting that they would try to be getting a little help from a friend. But I think most of the credit has to go to our trainers. They're really very careful about what they give our players.

Q. Do you think in this era, with tennis so professional and so tough, that the players need some sort of supplement during a match, more than water?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, you need the electrolytes to replace what you're losing. But you certainly don't -- I think most of the drug testing, they're trying to weed out cheats that would be doing steroids or whatever to help them recover quicker from a workout or become stronger, you know, get bigger muscle mass, all that stuff. I mean, I'm not really that aware of it. I know my trainer, we'll be walking down the street, there will be a guy that's really, really bulked up, she's like, "Juicing." You can just tell just by looking at people. Tennis players don't really benefit from that kind of a bulk. A little bit, yes. But too much would be actually harmful. What was the question? Sort of went off on a tangent.

Q. You've been in tennis for a long time. This issue seems to be a more recent issue. Can you explain what are the possible reasons for it? Testing is more rigorous. Any other reason why?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, they've never tested in any sports, then they started testing more and more because it was obvious, particularly with the eastern bloc countries, that the women were really doped up. And it started with the Olympics. And once tennis became part of the Olympics, then they started testing more. But overall, the countries themselves then wanted to test athletes. We have our own doping system in place that usually -- if we don't do it, then the countries will do it. They're testing for everything. They're testing for a lot of things that in tennis would be harmful. But it's on the list, so you have to be really careful. I think we just want to make sure that the sport is clean. Obviously, everybody should be on equal footing. Drugs have no place in the sport. People that are doing them are cheating, and that's not right. It shouldn't be that everybody should be able to take them so that they can get bigger and stronger. What for? If it's not natural, it's not a good idea. So, you know, I think our sport is very, very clean. When people have been -- have had elevated levels, it's been dealt with accordingly. But there is a difference when you have a level of 2,000 or a level of 5 when it should be 3. Obviously, it could be inadvertent. But when it's 3,000, hello, you're cheating. There's no way you can get that many into your system by accident. You have to present as clean a sport as possible just so people can say, hey, they got that way by hard work not because they're, you know, taking some chemical agents that make them stronger. Because it's not healthy, it's not good for you, and it's not good for the sport. On top of that, you're cheating. Even if it was allowed, you shouldn't be doing it. It's not good for you. Long-term effects, some serious side effects that, you know, people die from the stuff. So I certainly -- you know, if anybody offered it to me, said, "Hey, you can win Wimbledon again if you could do this," there's no way I would touch this stuff with a 10-foot pole.

Q. Do you think it happened before testing?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't think so. I really don't. McEnroe said he was taking steroids; he didn't know it. His wife knew it. He didn't know. A lot of the steroids, what's a steroid really? I know I took Prednisone once 20 years ago. I had a rash. The guy gave me Prednisone for the itching. I don't know if that's legal now. I don't think so. But took it for a week so the rash would go away. Now if I got that rash, I don't think I could take that. So you make sure that you get the right stuff from the doctors. But I don't think it really went on that much anyway. And people smoking pot, well, you know, some countries it's legal, some countries it's not. Certainly not going to help you play better tennis. Now you have to be careful to even be in a room in a party where people are smoking. It could get into your system. It's getting a bit much because you really get paranoid. You don't want to take vitamins just in case. I eat well anyway, so I don't have to worry about what I'm eating, I know it's clean stuff. But if somebody really wanted to sabotage someone, it could be done very easily. You know, I think the drug testing needs to be to make sure people are not cheating, but it shouldn't be that easy to get the tainted stuff either and get a positive, and you're in the same boat as somebody that's been cheating for years. You know, obviously the cheats are always one step ahead of the testers, as you could see with the designer steroid, that TGF, TH, whatever that was. They only found out when a trainer told them about it. So if people really want to cheat, they will be able to find a way. But we still need to try to keep it as clean as possible.

Q. You said whatever it is you're drinking, you don't know if it's allowed.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It's not approved.

Q. I'm wondering if you know what you shouldn't be taking? Do you think the ATP, the WTA, ITF, should put out more to let players know what they can take safely?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, basically nothing, other than Gatorade. That's it. There is nothing that is safe. This is called Vitamax (phonetic). I've been drinking it for 15 years, never had a problem. It's the only one that really doesn't upset my stomach. And that's good for my system. Everybody's different. But the trainers, their hands are tied. They can't recommend anything. You're on your own. Chances are you'll be okay taking powdered vitamin C or whatever. But you're still taking a chance. If your diet is good, you should be okay. But the electrolytes are easy to lose during a match. And that's the only way to replace them quickly enough without people going into a negative body effect.

Q. Would it be helpful to have a list of things?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: They can't guarantee the stuff. They cannot guarantee it. I think there is a niche for a lab that would only produce the vitamins and everything and the electrolyte drinks with no illegal substances anywhere near it so it cannot be contaminated, then you'd be good. Somebody is telling me there is a company that actually does it in the States. I forget the name. I had somebody ask about that. It was one of the soccer players who was telling me. We have a common agent. She was telling him she was taking something approved by the Olympic Committee. It would be good for us, as well. But we don't know what it is. We need to find out, as well. You reminded me.

Q. Albert Costa was saying yesterday that the men are really scared about taking anything now for the reasons that you've said. He stopped taking vitamins. Are the women as paranoid as that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think so, yeah. I mean, I'm not taking anything. I'm really careful. I only know this is good because I've been drinking it for so long. Chances are that I'm good. But it is a problem. It is a problem. You can't take any supplements because you can't be sure. Yeah, there's not a good solution to it at the moment. There's a lot of "No, no, no, you can't do it." "Okay, tell me what I can take." "Only this." "That's not good enough." There are people that are deficient in calcium, magnesium, or they need more vitamin E, vitamin A, whatever. It's tricky. Certain things are really difficult to get just through your diet. But at the same time if you are deficient in something, you really probably should look at your diet, and you'll balance yourself out in a month or so because when you start taking vitamins, then you're overloading your system another way. You know, if you are deficient in something, the body is telling you something. Either you're training too hard or you're not eating right. Chances are if you eat right... My blood tests have been right on the money. I was anemic 20 years ago once. Everything else is right on the money. That's because I eat well. Most players should just look at their diet. They should be able to straighten it out.

Q. What are your indulgences?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, you know, right now, I don't really eat anything sweet. I'm eating a lot of raw foods. But my indulgence is chocolate, I guess. If I really crave anything, it's chocolate. But then I just have two little squares. If I buy a bar of chocolate, it lasts me a couple of weeks. That's my strength. I can cheat a little bit, but I can stop. Dessert, I'll have two bites, three bites, I'll leave the rest on the table. The waiter will say, "What's wrong with your dessert?" I'll say, "Absolutely nothing. It's delicious." That's the key: moderation. I have plenty of indulgences, but all in moderation.

End of FastScripts….

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