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July 5, 2000

Martina Navratilova


MODERATOR: Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. Martina Navratilova.

Q. How did you enjoy your matches?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Very much. Very much. I got into the second week, so that's good. Would have liked to have been out there a little bit longer. We could have been out of there on Saturday. We were lucky to win the doubles match. Really should have lost that match, but we should have won the mixed and lost that. It came out even. It was a blast, a total blast. It's great. I enjoyed it more than I thought I even would when I first decided to play. I got to the quarterfinals once. I had a blast. Would I do it over again? Absolutely. Somebody said, "What if you lose first round, would you regret having done all this?" No, absolutely not.

Q. What about next year?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I have no idea. Mahesh Bhupathi asked me if we would play next year. I said, "I don't know." Anything's possible at this point. I haven't played for four years, I come back. It was still sort of holding my own. I have no idea. I still don't know about the US Open either. Depends on some things. It was fun. Who knows? I'm definitely not saying no. I'm definitely not saying yes. I don't know. It's a definite possibility.

Q. How did you enjoy playing with Mahesh?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Fabulous. He was so nice and so positive. As I didn't know, he just came back from a surgery. It was like only his sixth or seventh week back. He'll be better next year. I don't know if I will, but hopefully I can be the same. He was extremely pleasant and fun to watch him at the net. He's got fantastic hands. That was nice. Again, I wish we could have lasted a little bit longer. Mixed is such a crapshoot anyway. Comes down to a couple points. We didn't make them.

Q. You've watched Venus and Serena play commentating, you played against them today. How would you handicap their match-up?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I've been saying all along that I thought Serena was playing better. It's really hard to say in the doubles because they were both playing pretty well. Missed some shots they shouldn't have missed, but made some great shots, both of them. It's really hard to tell. Returning the serve, I actually found it much easier to return Serena's second serve than Venus'. But the serve, if they hit a good serve, it's too good. I think Serena just comes at you a little more physically. But they both are imposing positionally much more so than with their shots. You know, they hit some balls very hard, but some balls you think it's going to come hard and it doesn't. They're coming at you, so you're on your heels. Of course, when they're playing against one another, they're used to that. That's not going to be a problem. I know next time I would play them, I would play better because I'd expect that more. I've not played against either one of them. I still say Serena would have a slight edge. I think she's hitting the ball deeper, and I think she's a little more comfortable coming in and attacking a little more effectively. Venus, I still feel like she's coming in because she's supposed to, whereas Serena is coming because she wants to.

Q. How would you assess them mentally, confidence level?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I have no idea. I don't know if they know. I certainly don't know. I mean, Venus' second serve can get iffy. She's got more of a flawed serve technically, so they can break down more easily than Serena's serve. It's going to be a slug fest. I'm looking forward to calling it. As far as their confidence level, I have no idea.

Q. You played a great part in the evolution of women's tennis. Do you think they have taken it on another step?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Not yet, but they can. I mean, they have the capability of taking it another step. They just haven't gotten there yet. You know, certainly have the possibility. With their size, they're just so big. I'm next to them in the locker room (looking up). Venus, I'm looking like that (looking up), Serena's shoulders are about that wide (indicating). I thought I was big; I'm like a pip-squeak next to them. They're imposing. If they put it together technically, we could see them in the finals for a lot of years to come, if they commit themselves to that, if they want to stay around.

Q. What capabilities do they have?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: They have to be No. 1, both of them, or 1 and 2. They definitely have the potential.

Q. What does it need to take the game to another step, apart from hitting hard?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, for them or for anybody?

Q. For them.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: For them, making fewer unforced errors. That's where Hingis is so good, although yesterday she got beat. I thought she was playing very passively. Seems to be overwhelmed by their presence. She's got the variety. She does not miss. They still miss too much. If they can just cut down on the unforced errors, maybe not go for so much on every shot, just pick their opportunities a little more. You know, just harnessing it a little bit, more of a change-up. They just really hit the ball hard, hard, hard, or they hit this blooper ball. You're still on your heels expecting a bullet, so it's very effective.

Q. Are they good ambassadors for the game or do they need more humility? How would you characterize them?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You know, humility, I mean, sometimes they've talked the talk but haven't walked the walk. But they're backing it up now. I'd always rather see a lot more confidence, too much confidence, than not enough. Men have always been full of bravado, then they don't back it up, but nobody pays much attention to that because they're full of hot air anyway. I'm just kidding (laughter). Women aren't supposed to be this cocky, arrogant, "Look at me, I'm awesome" attitude. It wasn't just them. I mean, Hingis had it. I'd rather see too much of that than not enough. They're starting to back it up. Humility, you know, I think that comes with age. You don't see too many humble 18-year-olds out there. I know I wasn't.

Q. In your prime, how do you think you'd done against them?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: At my prime, I would have beaten them the way they're playing right now. They haven't reached their prime right now.

Q. Monica Seles said your forehand was the toughest shot she ever faced. If you had to pick out two or three individual strokes you faced which were the toughest, what would those be?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, Monica was pretty good on both sides. I didn't really have that much preference to going either way. But she really dipped the ball. Graf's serve and forehand. Margaret Court's second serve. Billie Jean King's backhand was amazing because she could do anything with it. She didn't overpower it, but back then nobody did. She had everything, the topspin lob, angle, line drive, great feel on it. Mentally, Chris Evert was head and shoulders above everybody. You put all those bits and pieces together, you'd have a serious No. 1 player.

Q. Best court coverage?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Court coverage? That would have been I think Steffi Graf. Zena Garrison a close second. Now the Williams sisters are amazing. They have such reach as well as the speed. We never had the combination. With Steffi, I felt like I could pick on her backhand side. With both Williams sisters, they have a great backhand. It's much more difficult to pick on a side. That's where I think they can overwhelm people because they're so fast to get up to the ball. You hit good shots, you think you hit a winner, you have to hit two or three more balls. That gets to you mentally.

Q. Venus said you played better than they expected, that your hands may still be quicker than hers or Serena's. She thought you'd do pretty well playing singles.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: If I had their legs, absolutely, but I don't. They're 43-year-old legs. On the doubles court you can get away with it. I haven't lost that much, but enough to not be able to cover the whole court in singles. There's no way. Not the way I play the game anyway. I have to be really quick.

Q. They both spoke highly of you but said you didn't have any substantive interaction, you, Venus and Serena. Can you talk about how you feel you were received in the locker room, what your interaction with the players was?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I think I initiate more of the conversations because maybe they're shy, all the players. The people that I know obviously were talking. This was really the first time I got to talk to Serena and Venus. I mean, I was trying to get them to talk a little bit. Everybody's been very, very nice. I've had some great reaction from the men players, too. They said, "God, you're playing well," this and that. When you get it from your peers, that's the high mark of approval. For me, that's been very, very satisfying, to be able to back up what I thought was still there, but you never really know until you put yourself in that position. When I first - my father is going to hate me for this - when I first told my dad I was thinking about playing at Wimbledon, he said, "Oh, no, you could lose in the first round." I said, "It's possible, but it's not probable." He was afraid that I would sort of lose some luster of whatever the image is that people have of me, they would say, "She shouldn't be playing anymore, she's too old, can't do it anymore." No, I can't play as well as I did 10 or 15 years ago, but I can still hang with them. I think my father doesn't have to worry so much.

Q. What memory or impression will you take away from this Wimbledon?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Don't know. It's not over yet. For me tennis-wise, amazing good feel of being out there, really happy to be competing and to be playing, to be running, not hurting, watching everybody else. It's not over yet. It's been fascinating watching Pete just dig in. You know, he just doesn't want to give up that title. I think any other tournament he would have deef'd and been out of here. Here he is in a commanding position to win it again. On the women's side, I mean, the Williams sisters, you know, if they had been on opposite ends of the draw, could have been a Hollywood ending, two sisters in the final. Now we have them in the semis. It's been fascinating to watch. Still there's Lindsay Davenport, who is playing more and more confidently throughout the tournament. I'm just excited to be part of it and see what happens. That's the beauty of tennis and sport, that you never know what's going to happen.

End of FastScripts…

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