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September 4, 2001

Martina Navratilova


MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. You played a wonderful game to get back into this. What went wrong?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I didn't hold serve. Basically that's the bottom line. We were up 3-2. I didn't play a good game. Just was too cautious on the volley, didn't stick it. Then we were 15-30, I had the high forehand volley I should have put away, I missed it. Could have been up 15-40. If we break, we're in good position. We were certainly in the match. You know, there were just a couple of points we needed to win that we didn't. It's hard for me to play people that I don't know. Testud I know, Vinci I didn't see before till we played. It takes me a while to get the hang of it. Next time we play them, I'll be in a much better position to play. Anyway, it just didn't -- could have finished them off. Just couldn't get going, on track.

Q. Is it still fun?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah. It's just frustrating to lose. Yeah, we had a good run at it. We had a good chance. We had a good route to the finals. Not that I was looking that far. I just wanted to get to the semis. I think I just want to win so badly, that gets in the way.

Q. How do you feel about looking around you and seeing a full stadium like that?

ARANTXA SANCHEZ-VICARIO: Well, it's great to play a stadium like this, you know, full. Obviously, you know, playing with Martina, obviously she had a lot of fans who coming. It's wonderful. I'm a player that I really enjoy that. The more people, the better. It also goes for my game. Is definitely great and fun to play with her. It's an honor.

Q. Martina, you said next time you play them. So this means this duo is going to be seen more?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: We're playing in Japan in a couple of weeks. We're just trying to figure out the schedule the rest of the year, depending on what kind of a chance we have to get into The Championships. Haven't really looked at it. We need to sort of map out the rest of the year. If we have a chance to get in, we'll play probably a couple tournaments before The Championships, try to get in.

Q. After Goran had his great win at Wimbledon, he said at times he had played like a faggot. Here a few days ago he apologized for that, said he had nothing against homosexuals. Then he said, "Maybe I should find something different to say. Maybe I should have said I played like a woman." Could you comment on that progression, so to speak? Do you think he gets it?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, obviously he's having some problems with, you know, expressing himself correctly (laughter). We could call it a language barrier, but that's what they say in that Slavic language. People have said it in English, but it doesn't work so well anymore because oftentimes girls or women play better than boys or girls -- than boys or men. I mean, there was a takeoff on the WNBA. "You play like a girl." "Thank you." That's a compliment. Guys have used that expression a lot. I think Agassi also made some kind of a comment about a woman, some sexual connotation. I'm not sure exactly what he said.

Q. Commented about her lack of sexual experience or activity is what Agassi said.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, you know, that's just stupid comments. They should not be saying that stuff. They should be accountable for that, but...

Q. Do you think things are changing at all in Europe?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, because people know they should not say it. You know, when Goran said it in the press room, all the press laughed. They laughed about it. That's what I heard. Maybe you didn't laugh, but most of them laughed. They thought it was funny.

Q. To be fair, they laughed because he said, "I'll have to find something else to say, something new."

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: When he said it originally in London. Here, they laughed about it because he's obviously getting himself deeper. He should have quit while he was behind (smiling). You know, people say a lot of things they shouldn't have said. That's definitely one of them.

Q. Also, it was a very difficult situation. The peak moment of his career really. Of course, you know about people raining on your parade after wonderful experiences.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah. I mean, that should not overshadow his accomplishment. You know, it was a stupid comment. You know, I'm sure that he wishes he had never made it. I don't think he'll be saying that again.

Q. While you were playing in the Armstrong court, two women of Czech background were playing in the main stadium. In a nutshell, what was the old Czechoslovakia doing right in producing so many players?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, we're all products of our parents really. I mean, they keep saying, Czech system, this and that. The Czech system didn't really step in for me until I was No. 1 in Juniors, 14 and under. They said, "We'll take over now." My father said, "No, you won't." They were trying to make me into a baseliner because I was coming into the net too much. "She'll never win that way." Hingis, obviously a product of her mother's coaching. Bedanova, product of her father's coaching. I used to play with him, played mixed doubles together way back when we were Juniors. Lendl, same thing. Parents. Mandlikova, all the big names. I think Jana Novotna is the only one that didn't have her parents leading the way. It's more the individual efforts really in a country where there was not a whole lot of other opportunities.

Q. Is there more in the culture of getting children, both boys and girls, into some sport of some sort than perhaps in England, where we have so many couch potatoes?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think Czechs are very active for the most part, everybody is doing something. There is no difference between boys and girls. If you bring a medal home from the Olympics, you're just as big a hero if it was a girl, woman or man, didn't matter. I was never discouraged to participate in sports the way girls really were not encouraged in this country at all. It's a miracle how far we've come, thanks to Title 9 once again. I was really surprised at how much inequality there was here.

Q. For Arantxa and Martina, what do you assess as Anna Kournikova's effects on the women's tour, pro and con, over the last several years?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Asked and answered. I'll speak like a lawyer. Asked and answered. We've talked about that a lot. She's not even playing, so... Let's talk about her when she starts playing again. She's been great for the game. Let's put it that way. Brought more fans to the game. Do you want to talk about that?

ARANTXA SANCHEZ-VICARIO: You talk (laughter).

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You know, she's opened a whole new fan base, which is great. I wish she were playing more. I hope she gets her foot together and can play again.

Q. You were talking about controversial remarks before. Last week's Time Magazine story, you got swept up in the Hingis-Williams sisters controversy. Any regrets over that? Also, did you read that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I regret speaking to the man because he totally took me out of context. I talked to him for about 20 minutes. Out of sentences, he would just totally cut it up and say what suited him. He had his angle way ahead of time, which he really did not tell me. I think I would have been a little more careful about what I said to him. But that's as badly as I've been taken out of context of everything. Trying to make his statement. His editorial comments were much stronger than my comments. I said, for example, Serena and Venus should figure out where their commitment is and figure out whether they want to be designers or tennis players, because they're floating between the two, by their own admission. He says, "World Wrestling Federation has nothing on these comments." That was strong (laughter). That was strong. I mean, you know, he just slammed it home. Fluffed it up as much as he could. I mean, I stand by what I said, but I wish he would have printed the whole sentence instead of half of it. I did say that Serena and Venus haven't been giving their opponents enough credit, but they have gotten better. He doesn't say that. They have gotten a lot better. He doesn't say that. There you go. As far as Richard dancing in front of Lindsay, I said if he had done that to me -- I don't think he would have done that to me, I don't know. I don't think it had any racial overtones. Had it been done the other way, if a white parent was dancing in front of a black player, you know, that would have had racial overtones. I don't think he meant it that way. I really do believe that he meant no disrespect to Lindsay. I don't think he put himself into her shoes. I told him that. We're all squared away. I think he's done a great job with the girls, amazing job with the girls. They've held themselves up very well. But I think they could have been better at some things. I think they're improving. Just Joel Stein totally blew it out of proportion.

Q. When you had that conversation with Richard Williams, did he get what you were saying?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I'm not sure. We have an understanding. So, yeah. I don't think he would do it again. But I don't think he apologized for what he did because, again, he didn't mean it in a racial tone at all. God knows African Americans have a big bone to pick with white people. I've seen it myself. You can really have a chip on your shoulder. I think they've handled it really well. I know all about prejudice. They face it every day. I think they could be a lot worse. Again, I don't think he put himself into Lindsay's shoes. I don't think he would do it again. I don't think he'll be dancing in front of a vanquished opponent again. It's basically about the girls. That's basically what I was saying. The girls are the story. They're women now. They're the story. You know, let them do the talking, and the celebrating.

Q. Going way back to Philippe Chatrier, made comments that offended Arthur Ashe. A lot of non-Americans coming into our culture run into this third rail, the whole issue of the role of African Americans in our country. Could you talk or reflect on what it's like for tennis players to come to our country, where this is such a central issue, certain things you can't say?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, yeah, because I think in Europe, for example, it's still okay to pick on Gypsies. There's a lot of prejudice about them. Because you think it's okay to pick on Gypsies, you can make comments about African Americans. You know, none of that is acceptable. I've had to correct some friends, family, about some comments they made. I'm like, "Wait a minute. That's not right." People should be more sensitive. I mean, I think we don't live in a bubble. Europeans are not stupid, but I think we still have some of the prejudices about the Gypsies. You know, we think we're better than others, and that's bull. Nobody's better than anybody else. You're only as good as you are by your actions, not by the color of your skin, or certainly not by your sexuality. It's how you conduct yourself that matters. People still sort of put themselves on a pedestal because they're whatever, so...

Q. What are your thoughts on the women's final being at 8:00 Saturday?

ARANTXA SANCHEZ-VICARIO: I think it's great. I mean, obviously it's probably the first time it's happening. Obviously, it's going to have a lot of attention. It's good for the game. Definitely I think it's, you know, very good for women's tennis.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Prime time. I say it's about time. It's great.

Q. Pete about to play Andre for the 32nd time. You probably had the greatest rivalry in tennis. Was it hard or easy for you to get up for Chris when you were both at the end of your singles career?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Easy. I always liked playing people that I knew. Of course, Chris and I were always trying to sort of out-do one another and overthinking sometimes. She thinks I'm going to go this way because I usually go this way. But, no, she thinks I'm going -- no, I'm going to still go cross-court. Sometimes you could overthink things. Overall, it was very easy emotionally to get up. She was a champion. We usually played each other in the finals. It was a no-brainer. Bring it on, let's do it again. What's the record?

Q. 17-14, for Sampras.


Q. Andre has won the last three. Do you see their rivalry, obviously it's not the same as yours, but do you see their rivalry as one of the better ones?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, absolutely. Hey, they've played so many times. They've been No. 1, No. 2 a lot of those years. It's fantastic for the game. Stadium will be rocking, yeah.

Q. The record with you and Chris Evert is like 1,614 to 1,243 - exaggeration.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: 43-37. We played 80 times. 80 times (smiling).

Q. What was the score?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Chris was way ahead. I finally pulled up even at 30-30. We kept playing. I thought that would almost be like the end of it. Five years later, it was still going.

Q. Do you sometimes look at these other rivalries and say, "Come on, guys, you have a long way to go, Rafter-Agassi is not a rivalry"?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No. But Sampras-Agassi is. It's right up there with Borg-Connors.

Q. Can you see the two of them overthinking, from what you know?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah. It was funny. I played Team Tennis when they played the Smash Hits for Elton John. I played with Andre against Pete. He's like, "Watch this, he's going to do this." He obviously knows the tennis. He was right nine out of ten times where Pete was going to serve. Pretty amazing to watch.

Q. He was wrong on set point on TV yesterday when he said Rafter would go to Pete's backhand.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Aced him down the middle, second serve. That was a great serve. He out-did Pete, but it didn't matter.

Q. Tennis is a game of emotions. How does it feel when everything is clicking together, there's a flow? What does that feel like? How does that compare when you're just clunking shots?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I get it more in practices than in a match. It's easier because there's no pressure, so you start flowing. When it happens in a big match, you know you're there. You know you can pretty much do whatever you want. It's a great feeling. It's like a drug. You want it to never stop. You want to play four out of seven, not just two out of three. What about you, when it happens, when everything is happening just right?


MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It's been a while, right? It's been a while for me, too (laughter).

Q. When you retired from singles play, what are your thoughts reading about Michael Jordan, he's thinking about coming back? Did you ever have that same temptation?


Q. Or can you imagine what's going through Jordan's mind, identify with that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think with basketball and all the major league sports, they had an off-season. Always had a chance to get away, coming back. Playing team sports is a different ballgame. I never wanted to play singles again because I know the kind of commitment it takes. I don't want to go there, mentally or physically. I have a life. I have a great life. This is sort of an extra, playing doubles. It's a bonus. But it's not the most important thing in my life. When you play singles, it has to be. So I never considered playing again, never. Some guy was trying to talk me into doing it because he had this new method, this and that. I started thinking about it. I'm like, "No, I don't want to work that hard." I'd done it for long enough. Again, I have a great life that I enjoy very much. Just doing this for fun. It's not a life for me.

Q. You wouldn't want to do like some of the men, the senior tour?


Q. Do you see a market for that for women?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, I think it's there. I'd probably play a couple, but I wouldn't play 15 events like the way the guys are doing. It's like the same old, same old, playing against the same players. No, I wouldn't want to do that, huh-uh.

Q. Have you planned your doubles schedule for next year?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Don't know. Don't know.

ARANTXA SANCHEZ-VICARIO: She's thinking to play with me or not actually (laughter).

Q. We've seen power tennis really take over the women's game. Six of the eight left are really sluggers. What do you think will be the next step in the evolutionary ladder that will start separating even those top players?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Athleticism, yeah. I think you'll see more of Williams sisters coming along. You've got the size, Lindsay, Monica, Mary Pierce, but you'll get better athletes, as well. They're out there. They're out there. When you get that combination of size and athletic ability, then they take it to a new level. I mean, I was at a certain level, but now Venus and Serena are as good an athlete, and they're bigger. Even if I'm as fast, and they're probably faster as well, no matter what, I stretch this way, Venus has eight inches on me (extending arm). They're bigger, better, stronger, faster. I think they're just going to be better athletes now. If you're not a good athlete, you won't be able to compete.

Q. Do you think Martina Hingis can survive in this atmosphere or is it just going to pass her by?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: She's got the game. I think where she needs to improve is her serve. I think that's probably the only thing holding her back. She doesn't win any free points on her serve. If you started the rally out of hand, she would win most matches. The big girls are winning too many points on their serve. She doesn't get any free points. That ultimately will hurt you in the long run.

Q. Among the Top 5 or six women playing here, do you see a rivalry emerging? Could you also assess how that would add to the popularity of women's tennis?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Right now it's hard to have that rivalry because there are so many of them. They don't play each other enough. I played Tracy Austin one year 11 times. I played Chris six, seven, eight times a year. They just don't see each other that much, so it's hard to develop that kind of rivalry because there's too many of them going at it. It very well could be Serena and Venus. Once they're always on the other side of the draw, might play more tournaments, you know, just see each other in the final. Who knows. Hard to tell. Hard to tell. I think there might be one that we don't know yet, some 14-year-old that is going to be 6'2", dunks the basketball, but chooses to play tennis.

End of FastScripts….

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