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November 15, 1994

Martina Navratilova


Q. Martina, here's another trinket for you.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Another trinket? That's what he called it, not me. Thank you very much.

Q. Martina, did Billie Jean say anything to you before you went out; when you went out for the match?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Did she say anything to me before the match?

Q. Yes. About pressure, the emotion?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No. She said a lot of things, but I can't remember exactly what it was. No, we just had a normal meeting. Craig and Billy and myself and talked about the match, tactically what I wanted to do.

Q. So you treated it just like another match?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Pretty -- I mean, we've done the other homework pretty much before today. It was a little late, right before the match, but it was still different because this was a different situation for me, so, I didn't know how I was going to feel because I've never been in that situation.

Q. How do you feel now?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: How do I feel now? Just sad that it's over so quickly. I was hoping to stay in the tournament a little longer, but I played Gaby who played great, great tennis today. I have nothing to hang my head about. I didn't play as well as I would have liked, but I didn't play badly either, she just ran me over today with a lot of topspin on her shots and she was hitting them deep usually I get some short balls, but I didn't really get any today and the only thing that I got were doublefaults, but she didn't do enough of them, and played really well and I didn't have as much spin on my serve as I would have liked. I tried all kinds of things and she just played better today. If she plays like that, she can go a long way in this tournament.

Q. Finally a press conference where the press isn't going to ask you, when are you going to retire, after all these years?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You guys stopped asking me that last year when I said I would. Then, of course, it opened a whole new plethora of questions. Then the next one was, what are you going to do after you retire; have you made plans. And I said, no, I still don't have any plans.

Q. Martina, is there any sense of relief right now?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It's too early to be relieved. I'm too pissed off about losing, for a lack of a better word. I just wanted -- like I said, I wanted this week to last because I was playing good tennis, so, I'm sort of torn between being upset about the match and, of course, the career is finished as well, not just another match, but it's been my choice as well. I could play again, I could play some more, but I feel this is the right time for me, but I'm just glad that I had that choice, that I retired on my own terms, not because the body said, no more, you know, I got new life four years ago with my knee operations and I've had such a long bonus time that I never could expect it so, so there's a lot of emotions going on in my head and my heart, and it will take a while to sort them out.

Q. Were those emotions going on during the match? Did you find it hard to concentrate on the match?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It was different, but, I was too busy to really get too emotional to think about anything else. I really didn't get this way until I was on match point, but it was too late by then. So it didn't have any effect on me during the match, thinking about everything else.

Q. In the end, was this a match you were dreading or you couldn't wait to take the court for?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, I never dreaded it, but it's always nerve-racking waiting for it. Especially playing late at night. That's what's hard about playing indoors, you know, you have all day to think about it. Although I did pretty well at not thinking about it all the time. I kept my mind busy doing other things, and I was excited once I finally got on the court. You know, and then with the crowd going nuts I said to the ball girl, how am I supposed to play after this?

Q. What did you do --

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Because I never had an ovation coming like that coming on the court, so I had to bring myself back to the task at hand, get my racket out of my racket bag.

Q. What did you do all day?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: What did I do all day? All kinds of things, but nothing strenuous.

Q. Martina, what do you think your greatest gift or influence has been in tennis whether on the court or off the court the last 22 years?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't know, you guys write that stuff.

Q. What --

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I really don't know. I think being the constant professional, giving everything I have on the court and off the court, you know, always trying to do my best, striving for excellence, and apparently that's rubbed off on a lot of people, so, I think that's the best part that I take, that I have influenced people who are not even tennis players, and, you know, that's pretty amazing what you can do when you hit the tennis ball pretty well.

Q. Do you think you're the greatest woman's player?


Q. Do you think --

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, no, there are too many. Many whose careers have been much shorter for whatever reasons. You know, the greatest tennis player maybe Monica Seles. I don't know, but she only was at it for three years. Maybe she'll come back and blow us all away. You can't measure the greatest by longevity or one great year. It is a combination of a lot of things. I have the numbers because I've played for such a long time, but there are other people that certainly are in that category like Susan Lenglen, Helen Moody, Alice Marble, Maureen Connolly, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Margaret Court, it's nice to be in that company. Because if I had been born in 1920, what would I have been? I don't know.

Q. Last night, Craig said he thinks what's sad is your game is going to disappear from tennis.

Do you agree with it or do you see any hope for the serve and volley future?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Perhaps the rule where kids don't play until they're 16 will help somewhat and they will develop their game a little more and won't just try to win at all costs. What concerns me the most, is the fact that most of the surfaces are the same speed these days. Which doesn't develop variety. If you don't have variety of serves, you will not have a variety of game, of different styles. That's why we had so many different various styles. The Aussies play one way because they grew up on grass, the west coast Americans played one way because they grew up on fast cement and Americans from the east, hard true, the European east, different style of play, but the courts seem to be getting generic, very slow, slowing down the game. At least on the women's side, it seems most of the courts have been really, really slow and as a result, you will have very much the same kind of player. So --

Q. Martina, now that you have retired from singles competition, are you planning to take a leading role in the WTA?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Absolutely. I'm the president, I haven't had that much chance yet to get involved as much as I would like because I've been too busy still playing and there has been a lot of demand on my time these last few months, but I certainly will be an active president. I was hoping to win so I wouldn't have to go to the council meeting on Thursday, for no other meeting, we have meetings all day long, but I will certainly do my share and be very active.

Q. Are you considering coaching in the future?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, not next year. One day I promised Billie Jean King that -- she made me promise that if she helps me, I have to pass on what she teaches me and she taught me a lot. So one day, I will, but there's no time limit on that.

Q. Do you know how to ride a bike? Are you going to ride it home --

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yes. No, no, there is about a foot of snow in Aspen, so that's not a good idea, but I do know how to ride a Harley and the springtime is very, very gorgeous.

Q. How do you feel about having a banner up there --

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: But they would not let me start it. I wanted to ride around the court.

Q. How do you feel about having your banner up there with some of the Knicks?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It starts maybe a whole new precedent for other performers as well as other athletes to be recognized. Simply because we're not a home team doesn't mean that we can't have a banner. So this starts a pretty nice new era, perhaps for other people to be recognized that way. For me, it was wonderful because, I'm a woman athlete, so for that to happen, it's pretty incredible. They didn't do that with Ali when he fought here and you would have thought that would have been the next logical step is do a boxer, but there are no female tennis players, so it's pretty cool.

Q. How do you want to be remembered?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I'm still alive. Very much so. I think I said before just the consummate professional whose passion for the game is pretty incredible-- matched by a few.

Q. Since you retired, what was the hardest moment; was it when you left Wimbledon with the grass? What's been the hardest?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think right now because this is final. It's been last time in Chicago, last time in L.A., last time at Wimbledon, but this is the hardest because this is the last, last, period. No next week. So emotionally this has been the most difficult for sure.

Q. Martina, can you name any player that you enjoy playing against the most?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: There isn't one, but I think all my best moments and the things that I will miss the most are playing against top players like Gaby tonight. I won't miss getting passed all those times, but being on the court against the best. Steffi Graf, Chris Evert, Monica Seles, Evaonne Goolagong, Billie Jean King and Margaret Court. For me, those were the real moments-- Virginia Wade as well, playing against players that are champions, that's a treat.

Q. Martina, when you were -- in your retirement what will be advice you will give to young players?


Q. Young.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Young, young. Oh, my God. I don't have time for that. Just make sure you enjoy the game and play it for the right reasons.

Q. Can I get two in real quick? How special is your relationship with Chris and how did that develop on and off the court and also Wimbledon this year; how special was it?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You want that in three words or less?

Q. How about 15 seconds? Take more.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: My relationship with Chris, well, she's -- never mind. It's, I think it's the most defining time of my career playing all those matches again her and we pushed each other to great levels, new levels. Without her, I wouldn't have played as long and without me she wouldn't have played as long. So we really made each other play a lot longer and better, and what was the second one?

Q. Wimbledon this year, making it to to the final one last time; how special was that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I've been asked was that the most disappointing -- one of the most disappointing times in my career, I said, are you crazy, it's one of the most special ones. I didn't win the match, but the way I was playing prior to Wimbledon and get to go the finals was a miracle, I enjoyed every minute of it and, you know, it was a nice way to end that run.

Q. Martina, when you were -- what role do you think -- what role do you think your lesbian image played in your becoming such a strong and great champion?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, you think the tennis ball is afraid of me because I'm gay; because I hit it better?

Q. Because I think there are other people who didn't train the way did you.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't think that has anything to do with your sexuality, my sexuality, and how I approach tennis or anything else I do are two totally different issues. Giving my best doesn't have anything to do with being gay or not.

Q. It's just a coincidence that you were the one who started training as hard as you did as opposed to Chris Evert or Tracy Austin?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't think homosexuality has a patent on excellence.

Q. -- physical strength -- And the desire to do--

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Let's not go into that.

Q. Talking about your desire to do certain things with your body. In other words, to be who you are.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You are really stretching there.

Q. Martina, how do you --

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I didn't know I was gay back then when I first started. My God.

Q. How do you feel in advancing in women's sports and women's tennis and being a role model for woman to achieve in sports?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Very, very good. I mean, that's nice. I mean, what do I say? It's great that my example will set, hopefully, a good example for other kids to follow, men or women. And it's just nice to be a role model, I guess, I try to live up to that, it is a pretty tall order. But there's one thing that I'm happy about is I've how I've conducted myself over the years 99 percent of the time. Smashing the racket at the French Open, I'm still reading about, but I think the sense of fairness is what I've always instilled in kids that I see and that's one thing that people will get from me and that, you know, I try to live by -- try to set a good example and I think that's where I have set mine.

Q. Martina, when you were growing up in Czechoslovakia, what did you allow yourself to dream about and did at any point did you imagine all of this?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, of course not. I didn't know there was a Madison Square Garden back then. So, my dream was just to be the best tennis player and I made that commitment when I was 8 years old and never did I imagine it would take me as far as I did. I thought it would be a good way to get out of the country and see the world and hopefully win Wimbledon one day. But, women's tennis didn't exist in the state that it is now and people weren't making money from playing tennis. Ron Laver signed on with Jack Kramer to play the professional tour and got a hundred thousand dollars for the year. That was unheard of back then. So, it wasn't -- you know, that wasn't one of the things that I thought I could play tennis for as long as I did because there was no money in it. Money has enabled me to be out here and still play and not have to get a real job. So, those are my dreams to get out of the country and win Wimbledon. Of course, I wanted to be the youngest champion ever, but at that time I didn't realize the youngest champion was a 15 year old woman that won it back in 1905 or something. My goals were a bit lofty. But, anyway.

Q. What has your career made you sacrifice? Craig talked about you might want to go home and see your parents more; has that been something that's gone by the wayside?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Not having quality time with my friends and family, of course. I see my sister twice a year, my parents twice a year and, you know, I go to Czech Republic for three days. That's all the time I have. I have to do it after a tournament or before because my mother feeds me too much. So, now I'll have more opportunities to spend with them. I don't have to a watch my waistline.

Q. Do you feel that there is anything you missed-- to do in tennis, you left out, you didn't accomplish?


Q. There's -- your new life, what's your goals to propel you towards your new life?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: What are my goals in my new life? The most immediate is survival. I don't have any. I mean, enjoy myself next year and try to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I don't know, I guess, the most immediate is to be a good president for the WTA because I have a commitment to that, but I don't have any other commitments to do that other than to go helicopter ski in January, so my commitment is to the WTA and to myself to really kickback and take some nice vacations and see what tugs at my heart strings. Once I figure out what it is I wanted to --

Q. -- speculation that you made with a major leader in the gay rights after you have some time for yourself; do you see that happening?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, again, like I said, I'll have to see what really tugs at my heart strings. There are so many issues that concern me. Gay rights, obviously, is one of them; equality would be nice for gays,, equality would be nice for women, it is a whole new concept that people still don't seem to understand. Of course, there are, you know, environmental causes, animals, children, old people. You name it, it's out there. The homeless area, same old -- every block there's a homeless person in this city, and it is a sad sight, so, I don't know. I'll see what's really closest to my heart and make sure whatever I get involved in that I can make a difference.

Q. Will you be playing exhibitions?


Q. Your mother and your stepfather were influential as a child; what was it like to have them here?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, he's my father, he's been my father -- he was my father because he raised me. What was the question?

Q. What does it mean to you to have them here?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, they've never seen me play in the Garden. My grandmother saw me play in the Garden back in 79, but my parents have not. I think it was a pretty special moment, of course, they probably think it's always like that. But, that was my most hard-pressed moment on the court when my mother came on because then she started crying and I really had to hold myself together. But it was wonderful to have them here.

Q. What's your latest -- What is your legacy to the game; how will you define it?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't know, I think -- I don't know, you guys write it. I'm still here.

Q. Is there one moment over the last 21 years that stands out and you said that was the supreme moment of my career?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, not an original question. And not an original answer, no, too many.

Q. Do you --

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: -- prompt media, for the most part, yes, it's nice to be asked opinions and for some reason, for some people, they matter. My relationship with the media has been very up and down, but the last ten years or so it's been very up. I think once the people got to know me and I got to know them a little bit, it became much easier, you know, the tabloids have tried to kill me, but they have not succeeded. You know, so many lies, incredible lies written by the tabloids, but you guys that are here have-- I've had a great relationship with and I will miss the press conferences believe it or not.

Q. Are you likely to play any doubles matches here?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't know yet. It is a possibility -- I don't know how much tennis I'll play during my time off. Chris plays like two three times a week. I don't know if I'll have that urge to do it that often. But I may want to come back to it more than I think because I'll want to something that I do really well because everything else I'll be a total beginner in, so I may want to do that just to make sure I can still do something really well.

Q. You just talk about playing; how do you plan on keeping fit?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I'll still work out and I'm going to learn how to snowboard, windsurf, I'll keep skiing and riding my bicycle, mountain bike. I was the at the Women's Sports Foundation a couple of months ago and someone promised to give me mountain biking lessons. Are you here? Is that you? Another woman promised to give me windsurfing lessons. So I think I'll be in good hands, and you know, have a lot of fun.

Q. When you speak of that relationship you have with the media, do you realize for us how unique it is and would you encourage other athletes to try to Open up more publicly via the forum of the media?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I think that's one of the things where I can help with the women players is to make a more -- if not accessible, certainly more open to talking and not feel like, you know, for the WTA people or the Virginia Slims people to do interviews is like pulling teeth and I think that's where I can help is to make the players realize we have to have a better relationship with the media not to have good stories written about us, but to have stories written, period, and have a better rapport and you're not doing us a favor by writing about us--

Q. But as you were open with us, you would give us an opinion on Magic Johnson, did you know how unique it was?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, but did you guys ask them? I don't know, for some reason I think I've been asked more of a variety of questions, but, you know, maybe the other players won't talk about it. It is not just women tennis players or men tennis players, it's just athletes in general, they don't. I guess they don't want to be controversial because once you become controversial, you don't get endorsements and that means money and most people, I guess, are not willing to do that because that's like taking a cut in pay by being honest. So as long as athletes are judged on their opinions. You know, you think about it the biggest grossing athletes as far as endorsers are concerned, you don't know anything about what they think about anything. So, that way they don't offend one person, so --

Q. We thank you for it.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I could be here all night.

Q. What was for you the best match of your career?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: That question was asked and answered. I don't know. There have been too many.

End of FastScripts....

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