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May 15, 2003

Martina Navratilova


THE MODERATOR: First question for Martina, please.

Q. What made you select Svetlana as your partner?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, she hits the ball hard; I needed somebody that hits it harder than me. She's a good listener. She's very eager. She's got a great attitude - most of all, a great attitude, which is something that's really hard to teach. So she's very eager, very positive and likes -- wants to learn, wants to get better. I mean, she's got all the ability, all the possibilities. She still doesn't have that much confidence in her volleys and her movement, but that will get better. She's got all the shots. If I tell her to do something, she does it. And she also thinks well on the court, too. She's got good strategy ideas and helps me out there. I just thought we would be a good contrast for one another. I can help her, she can help me. It's a good team situation.

Q. Do you plan to continue with her throughout the year?


Q. Why do you think she lost today against Myskina? Because she lacks experience?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I saw only the second set, and she certainly had the opportunities. I think she still goes too much in and out mentally, just making too many errors, unforced errors that really weren't -- balls weren't going anywhere. Even if the ball went over, she still wouldn't have gotten anywhere. Making errors in the wrong places, shot selection. But that's all experience, yeah - for the most part, experience. I thought she just wasn't ready to play the point after she served. A lot of her errors came on the second shot in the rally. She just needs to get a little quicker, yeah. Shot selection and quickness, pretty much.

Q. Talking about your experience, if the Italian Federation could find some money to give to you, how do you think it's possible to promote in some way this women's tennis in Rome, in this country you know very well? What's your opinion about it?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, the Euro's pretty strong right now, so I don't think it would take that much to lure me. No, I think -- I don't know what happens here because last year the crowd wasn't that great either. It's still that mentality of supporting the men more than the women. You still have to get ...

Q. The men didn't have a big crowd.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Pardon me? The men didn't have any crowd either?

Q. A little better than now.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: What was it for the week? How many spectators for the week? Does anybody know the numbers? Has it just been going down steadily? Maybe we have to go to Milan or someplace. No, because people get jaded. Unless it's a Grand Slam, most tournaments, after a period of time, go down - eventually. You have a great run. Maybe we need to go somewhere else for five years and then come back. Maybe the Romans are just, "Yeah, it's just the Italian Open again." And maybe someplace else it would be better attended; I don't know. But I've seen that happen. No matter how good a product it is, people just get jaded. They get used to it, no matter how good it is. People come to the French Open because it's the French Open, not because somebody's playing. But here, you've got to come because you want to watch somebody play. So, you know, move it, and then come back. That might be the way. I mean, I don't know what the press is doing, what the publicity is leading up to the tournament. We only see when we get here, and it just, you know, obviously is not as good as it ought to be. The product is great. The tennis is -- the product is good, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. You just need to get the people out here. I think the people that come enjoy it, they want to come back again. But not enough of them.

Q. Do you think it is because of the way you used to play in the '80s, it was more attractive to the public, more beautiful to look at?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't know if that's the only reason. I don't think that's the only -- no, I don't think that's the reason, no. I wouldn't think so. Because the names -- there's many more players now, the names are great. You know, it goes in cycles. Europe was stronger. I think maybe here in Italy because you don't have any great Italian, really, players - men or women. At least with Panatta, the people would come and they were forced to watch the women and they enjoyed that, too. But now the national interest isn't there, but European interest, overall, I think is pretty good. I don't think it's the style of the game, I wouldn't think so; I'm not sure.

Q. Once in a while there is a discussion in Italy about the No. 500 men's tennis player can beat Serena Williams or the No. 200 or 300, whatever. What is your opinion?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Who cares? How many matches do you have to play to find out what the number is, you know? It doesn't matter. I mean, that discussion is always going to be there. Now you've got Annika Sorenstam will be playing in a golf tournament in the States. You know that you can compete against some men, but depends on a lot of things. The women are a lot better than people think. The biggest difference is the serve. That is the biggest difference. If you play with one serve only, then I think the number would come down quite a bit as to who Serena or Venus or I could have beaten in my time. But the serve is just really, really powerful. The guys put so much spin on it and pace on it. But it doesn't matter. We have a product that's all good on its own. And, you know, just because women basketball players don't dunk the ball doesn't mean they're not great players.

Q. You still have that enthusiasm. How many more years do you want to go?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Just this year for now, that's good enough for me. I'm not worried about next year. I always played it one year at a time, no reason to change now. So as long as I have a good time and enjoy it, which I am now, that's as long as I'll be playing. If I could only play in Rome, I would probably play 10 more years - between the great fans and the super courts and fantastic food. We were at La Serenissima up the hill; doesn't get any better than that (smiling). I ate there yesterday.

Q. What is your favorite dish?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, everything. They just keep bringing it. My favorite is the unripe peaches, the peaches that are marinated in tartufo. I'm taking a case home (smiling). Everything is homemade there, it's fantastic. I can only eat there every other day.

Q. For a player today, who do you think resembles you?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You mean facially or... (Laughter)? No, nobody plays like I did, no. The closest that would have come to that would have been Tauziat and Novotna, but they don't play anymore. There is nobody that plays like that now. Maybe there will be. I don't know why there isn't one, but there isn't one. Patrick Rafter - he doesn't play anymore either (laughing).

Q. We have never seen so much public watching a doubles match. What do you think you are for your fans, "Martina Navratilova"?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't know, you'd need to ask them that. But they seem to be having a good time watching me play. It's really funny - now when I hit a really good shot, they go crazy. If I hit an average shot, they still go crazy. In the old days, I had to hit the ball between my legs running backwards, then they maybe went crazy. Now, it takes a lot less for me to get a good ovation. But I think they enjoy it because I play differently from everybody else. They enjoy watching that. They don't see it anywhere else. Maybe that's what it is, I don't know. Maybe they're wishing that they had seen me 20 years ago so they come for, you know, a little less now. So it's all right.

Q. Is there a player, a female or a woman, who you like to watch play?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I loved Hingis. I loved watching her play, but she doesn't play anymore either. She should be. I think I like -- for different reasons I like to watch different players. Obviously, Serena, Venus, just because how they cover the court. Their speed is amazing to watch. With Jennifer, I enjoy watching her because she, I think, hits the best ball out there. She hits the ball so square and clean. Mauresmo because she does come in and tries to create some things out there. Henin, very creative. I think she's probably the one I enjoy watching the most.

Q. In your native country, Czech Republic, they always give this "Martina" name, it still goes on. The name Martina goes on. They like to give the name now, Martina.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: What's the question?

Q. In your country, native country...

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, I got that part.

Q. They still give the "Martina" name over about 20 years. Say something about that.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I'm not sure I understand. Do you understand the question?

THE INTERPRETER: He means they give your name.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: To their children?

THE INTERPRETER: Yes. How do you feel about that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It's just a very popular name. I don't think it's my fault, though. I think it was becoming popular. I think it was becoming popular. It was unusual when I was born. But you have to ask them. But, I mean, I ran into a Romanian cab driver in New York who said he named his daughter after me. That was a surprise. He was Romanian, not Czech. But I have no idea if those people -- I think it's just a popular name, period. You still have Germans, I don't think they name their kid after me. A lot of German players are named Martina. I think the amazing one is with Hingis, the fact that she got to No. 1. I mean, that will never happen again. That was pretty funny. That was amazing.

Q. Takes more than the name.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Maybe they wanted to stick it to the system, you know, to the Communists, just keep reminding them that I was out there. That's possible.

Q. Which singles player is in the best form right now?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I haven't seen the Williams sisters play much. Venus played and got hurt, lost. Serena hasn't been out here. So, you know, the season's still young but you've got one week before the French Open so it's hard to judge that one. I thought Clijsters would win the French Open a few months ago, but it's a wide open field. Serena has the edge, obviously, with her confidence and with her court coverage; however, on clay she doesn't move as well as somebody like Clijsters or Henin. So right now, it looks pretty wide open. Maybe after this tournament I can tell you a little more.

End of FastScripts….

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