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March 26, 2003

Martina Navratilova


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Just talk a little bit about the match. I know a couple of times you guys were down a break, came back, down in that first tiebreak.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: First set, yeah, we should have lost the first set; we should have won the second set. That's sort of how it went, it just flip-flopped. It was, one-set-all was a fair result. Then I think we just played better than them in the third. Svetlana picked it up in the third. I played well in the first two sets, I don't think I played as well in the third as I did the first two. But Svetlana started playing better. The fact that we were able to stay with them when my partner wasn't playing as well as she's capable of playing, was a good effort. She played well when she had to, but she can certainly play better. So it went well, yeah. She played great in the last set, my goodness. Didn't miss a shot.

Q. This one of your more gratifying doubles victories?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, how many have I had?

Q. But at this point in your career?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: At this point it's the most gratifying because that's the only one I'm playing. If you compare it to all my wins... Yeah, it's fun to beat the No. 1 seeds. It doesn't happen very often. But then that's because I was seeded No. 1 most of the time (laughing). But, yeah, this is sweet, obviously.

Q. Do they play like No. 1 in the world?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't know, I've played them three times now, and I won twice. I got blown out of the other match with Zvereva. But they certainly have the results over the last 12 months. They play unorthodox, but most of the women now play that way. The only ones that really serve and volley all the time are Stubbs-Raymond. Everybody else is playing pretty much serve and stay back, maybe come in later on. So it's a different kind of a game. But they're the No. 1 team, there's no question about that.

Q. How much are you enjoying just all of this at this point? I mean, do you get as much enjoyment out of it as you used to?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I always got a lot of enjoyment, period. It's not that I enjoy it more now, it's a bonus. Certainly, I wasn't planning on playing, but now that I'm playing, I'm playing because I'm enjoying it. Yeah, of course you enjoy it when you win on top of that. But the expectations were never that -- I didn't have any really. I just wanted to go out there, see what happens. So I always enjoyed it. If you don't enjoy it, then go do something else. There's plenty of things to do in the world. I'm lucky that, obviously, number one, I'm playing a game for a living, and, number two, I've been able to do it for a long time. The reason I've been doing it so well for a long time is because I enjoy it.

Q. There was a period when you took a few years, you really didn't play. Was there something you felt was missing?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I didn't miss it at all when I didn't play. Again, the only reason I started playing again was because I was in really good physical shape and I was doing TV at Wimbledon and it dawned on me I could have played doubles this year. So really it just -- I said this story many times, but that is the truth. If I hadn't been doing TV at Wimbledon, I wouldn't have gone to Wimbledon and it would never have occurred to me to play again. I need to thank HBO (laughing) for keeping me out there and then getting the bug back, because I was done. When I quit, when I retired from singles and doubles, I thought, I thought, "If I don't hit another tennis ball the rest of my life, I'll be happy." And you know what, I would have been happy. But now that I'm playing, I'm happy playing as well. So it just sort of mushroomed. Then when you play, you do just as much work to play one tournament as you do to play ten, so I might as well play more because the work has to go into it.

Q. Do you put any kind of time frame on that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, none. I always said one year at a time. I said that when I was playing, I never planned beyond this one year. And so I'm still not planning, you know, whether I'll play next year or not. They wanted me to tell them at the Australian Open, when I won the mixed doubles, will I play next year. I said, "I just got started this year, I have no idea." So I'll finish it out and then I'll know.

Q. Were you surprised about how embraced you were by the fans when you came back to doubles?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, they embraced me when I was still playing singles. So they're certainly going to embrace me when I play doubles. No, that was not a surprise. Plus, playing in the States is more difficult because the crowd really is on your side the great majority of the time. When you're playing in Japan, you're playing the Japanese, they're going to root for the Japanese. When you're playing in France against the French, they're going to root for the French. The enthusiasm might wane, but playing in the States, I get the crowd on my side no matter who I play against. It's added pressure, but it's nice, I like it that way.

Q. Some of those Wimbledon dollies in the 19th century played into their 50s.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: There you go. And they had to wear those long outfits. See, I don't have to do that.

Q. You're very lucky.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: People didn't live, you know, the median age was about 55 or something. So, yeah, maybe, who knows? Right now, I'm just taking it, you know, definitely one year at a time, my goodness. So who knows. I'm not saying anything.

Q. Are you as involved with the politics of the game this time around in terms of like, new CEO appears to be Larry Scott or whatever, are you aware of where the WTA tour is going? Are you taking a role in that or sitting back this time?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, I'm sure that I'll be involved. I know what's going on. Larry Scott I don't know, but I'm definitely going to stay involved, yeah.

Q. What do you think, whether it's Larry or somebody else, the WTA tour needs?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: A different structure. We need to change the structure. The players need to have more say, and we need room to evolve. We have no room to grow and to expand or change. We can't change anything. If there is a tournament that is doing really badly, the players have no say as to whether the tournament will go on or not really. So, you know, the players are not represented at the moment. I feel they're very under-represented. So this structure needs to -- there needs to be a lot more give and take. The ITF, basically they come to us and say, "This is a done deal," there's not much negotiation. Nobody really negotiates. They just sort of do what they want to do.

Q. Do you feel it's not a true players union?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: We don't have a union, yeah.

Q. People say that's the "women's union."

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, we don't have a union, no. If we had a union, that would be a whole new ball game out there. Because if you unionize, you say, "Okay, this is what we want," they're going to have to listen because there's only one set of players. There's a whole bunch of promoters, there's a whole bunch of sponsors, there's all kinds of places we can play tournaments, but there's only ten players that are in the Top 10. There's only one Serena Williams. You can't substitute for her. So... Right now, the players, I think, need to somehow regain more of the power they had. They don't have enough at all at the moment.

Q. (Inaudible - question referring to mixed events)?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, look at the prize money here. Because the ATP contributes to the prize money, the men are getting more than the women. Should they be getting more than the women? No. I don't care why they're getting more, but they shouldn't be getting more. Whoever wins this will make more money than the singles winner on the women's side. That should not be. If everything is equal, yes. But even when it starts out equal, the guys take over for whatever reason. They get more. And it's unfortunate. So I think the women's tennis is, as a game, is in great shape. The product is fantastic, let's put it that way. Some tournaments are better off with all of us playing together; some are, you know -- for some, we don't need to play with the men. I think for the game, as a whole, it is better to have some of these mixed events, but I wouldn't want to see ten of them - enough already.

Q. In 1985, you won this tournament when it was in Delray Beach. You won all three titles. Do you remember that tournament then, when you won?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I remember winning the triple here. Because in fact, back then, there was no mixed doubles at the Australian Open. So I sort of -- I won all the mixed doubles one year. So I sort of took it as a Grand Slam of mixed doubles because I didn't have the chance to play the mixed doubles at the Australian and I won it here. So I wish they would have the mixed; they might bring it back, who knows. Apparently, they took it away because the players didn't want it. But I think now with so many more players just playing doubles, it would be a nice addition to the tournament because they're lacking for matches the second week. It's pretty thin. To do like a 16-draw mixed doubles, it doesn't really hurt anybody. It keeps the fans in the seats, so.

Q. You're still the oldest, I think, winner here ever, women's winner. Does that say anything for women's tennis as far as are women retiring earlier than the men? Do you think women should play a little longer?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I think it goes -- it's a lot easier for a man to be playing when he's a father than for a woman to be playing when she's a mother. Number one, it takes a lot out of your body. The women do take more care of the kids, no matter what anybody says. They spend more time with the kid than the father. It's extremely demanding once you do settle down and have a family. Physically, women certainly can stay in there. You see women running the marathon at the age of 40, breaking amazing endurance records with the triathalons and everything, the 100-mile races. There are women that are in ridiculously great shape. So age really doesn't need to get in the way. But I think life gets in the way. You're sort of ready to move on and do something else, which is fine.

Q. There's a fairly large age difference between you and your partner.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, there's a large age difference between me and anybody that I play with, darling (laughing).

Q. But especially your partner, she is 17.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: She'll be 18 in three months. That's pretty much the median age out there, so, yeah, I mean...

Q. How do you guys get along? It is a big difference.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Would it make a difference if I played with a 25-year-old? She's still 22 years younger than me. Makes no difference. No, age has nothing to do with it. It's fun playing with somebody that young, because I sort of think of how I was. You just get out there, play, have fun, feel no pressure, and you just blast away, no. We're tennis players. I mean, I have more experience, obviously, than anybody out there. But still, sometimes Svetlana comes up with a great idea of what we should do. I'm like, "Oh, I didn't think about that." And we do it, and it works. We're like, "Okay, partner." She's got a good head on her shoulders. Obviously, I can teach her a lot, but she's teaching me out there as well, believe it or not. The other day, in our first-round match, I was really stressing out. I was very uptight. She totally settled me down and said, "Okay, time to settle down and not get so pissed off when you miss a point." I'm like, "You're right." And I played much better after that and we came back and won the match. So we can both learn from each other.

Q. Away from the tennis, though, just not with Svetlana, with everyone, do you sometimes feel like you're in a time warp or something? I'm sure their music tastes and their dress tastes and all that stuff is so totally different, no? Speaking from experience, you know.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't know. I mean, I think they would all look good in this shirt (smiling). Certainly, there are some things that I wouldn't be wearing, you know, I'm too old for that. But I probably wouldn't have worn them when I was 16 either, you know, just different tastes. As for music, I never liked heavy metal when I was 15, I don't like it now. I like every other kind of music just about. I'm sure I was born -- in one of my lives, I was in India, because I love that eastern music. No, I don't feel out of place at all. I don't really think about it. It's when I, like, lay down and I see my face sort of falling and wrinkles coming out and these kids, you know, they're kids. I'm closer to menopause, and some of them, you know, don't even have their period yet. So that's pretty amazing when you think about it. Guys, am I making you uncomfortable (smiling)?

Q. Can you talk a little bit about your training regimen? You're in such great shape.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, we don't have enough time. Let's just say I mix it up a lot. You can talk to my trainer, Giselle Tirado. We do a lot of different things. It's not quantity, it's quality. It's really good stuff that we do. Like now, I was late for the press conference because she said, "You need to take time and stretch," and I was on the bike for 15 minutes just warming down. I never did that when I played, but it helps for tomorrow. That's what you're thinking about, tomorrow, not right now.

Q. When you look at today's power players, Serena, Venus, all the rest, do you think of how much a kick it would have been when you were at the top of your game to play against a player like that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, sure, I would have loved it. I love pace. I love pace. It makes it easier to volley. If you can get your racquet on it, you're in good shape. I practiced with Serena a few times last year in Japan when we played doubles together. We played some points. I was like, "God, this would have been fun." Yeah, of course. But I think I had my share of playing against different styles and different champions, different kinds of players. So, yeah, pretty much span the, you know, the old-fashioned, the middle and then the new wave. So I'm pretty lucky that I got to play against all of them.

Q. You and Svetlana seem to have good chemistry, more so than any of your partners last year. Can you talk about how you found each other?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I played against Svetlana - in fact, I played with Serena and she played with Aranxta and we lost to them. Svetlana was the best player on the court. I'm like, "This girl's good." I had already met her a year before because Arantxa was her mentor, and I had been helping her. Svetlana plays at the academy, the Sanchez Academy. I'd known her for a couple of years and was following her progress. Then when I played against her, I was like, "This girl's good." When Aranxta retired, I was like, "Oh, better give Svetlana a call." I hooked up with Tulyaganova. She said she didn't want to play doubles because her shoulder was bad. We sort of fell into it by default. Both of our partners didn't play anymore, one way or the other. So I gave Svetlana a call, and I thought she'd be good because she's strong mentally and she's not afraid of anything. If I tell her to hit the second shot down the line lob, she'll do it. If she tells me to do something, I'll listen to that too and try to do it anyway. The chemistry is very good. We work as a team, like each other as people and have a good time together out there.

Q. The things you have to do to win a doubles match now, are they a great deal different?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, of course not. Doubles is the same thing. You play the angles, play the middle most of the time. Whoever has the best second serve usually wins. It's just a matter of execution, really. I mean, hitting the right shots, that doesn't change. That's why I'm still winning, because it's the same stuff. The court's still the same dimension. If they're playing from the baseline, I know where to volley. If they're at the net, I know where to volley. No, doubles hasn't changed in that they're staying back more on the baseline. But still a good volley will beat a good ground stroke, period.

Q. You still have a good comfort level every time you walk out there no matter who else is on the court?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Of course. Yeah, absolutely.

End of FastScripts….

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