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August 30, 1994

Martina Navratilova


Q. Do you want to make any announcement?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, I don't have anything scripted. I came here as president of the Association, rather than Martina Navratilova, tennis player. So if you have questions for me as the president, I'll be happy to answer them. As far as new enactments are concerned, the first thing I wanted to do is make a new rule, make sure the dogs are allowed in the locker room. I've been subject to great harassment in the past with KD.

Q. Do you think you can get the republicans to work with your administration next year?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I hope I'm more successful than Clinton has been in getting all the people to work together, but I don't think there is a Dole that would be undermining everything I'm trying to do on the other side. Pam and I will be working very closely together, and everybody has the same goal in mind which is better for the game and better women's tennis. So I think it's going to be pretty easy to get some real good things done.

Q. Seriously, what's on your program for the next year?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don't have a program. There are lots of changes that could be made to make the game better, but I certainly will not be saying what they are right now or what they should be because we all need to get together and make the decision together. I voiced my opinions on some things, but I can't do that on my own-- and who I'll be talking to and having some in-depth discussions, but I think the demise, in the words of Mark Twain, the death of women's tennis has been greatly exaggerated. I think it's well on its way up, and I think the future looks very exciting and I'm glad that I'm a part of it, actually.

Q. Before the vote you said that you thought maybe you were too radical. Can you describe what you meant by that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I heard that through the grape vine that some people thought I may be too radical, but I have my opinions. But I'm certainly willing to go with the majority and support the majority, and tennis does need changes. I don't think it's open heart surgery, but it certainly can use a shot in the arm. And yes, rock and roll music is not going to cure that, but it's one of the ways to make the public a little more excited about being there.

Q. Martina, can you a describe some of the radical ideas?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, no, I can't. I was talking about wooden rackets, but that's probably out of the question with the manufacturers. But again, I will be talking with my constituents and everybody that's part of the game and hopefully we'll all be pulling in the same direction.

Q. There is a short checklist of things. Just running down the list, you probably mentioned to people various plans about on-court coaching, breaks between sets; we were asked as associate members as well to give feedback on that. What's your personal if not presidential opinion?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I think there are too many breaks already. You play two games and then you sit down.

Q. Crowd movement?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think the crowd movement is definitely a good idea. I think if they're right behind the server, that doesn't happen very often, but I think we need to make it more free flowing for the public. Sometimes there can be a game going on for 20, 30 minutes, they have to stand there and wait for a changeover and they don't see anything. It's not like at a baseball game. At least you can see what's happening before you get to sit in your seat. You're standing there in the hallway and you don't see anything, you just hear the crowd going crazy. So that's certainly a step in the right direction. But again, all those things will be considered and some, if not all, will be enacted and some that you had mentioned. There are all kinds of possibilities out there.

Q. Do you think your tour --

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: But I agree with Agassi. What the game needs most are rivalries and you can't have that without the players playing one another. The men play a lot more tournaments because of the computer rank, but because they have two or three big tournaments a week, they still don't play each other that much and same on the women's side. The top players don't play each other enough to create a rivalry. So, now, it's the Grand Slams and have been the Grand Slams for about ten years that get all the glory because that's where all the top players are. But still, you have to win so many matches before you can get that far, before you can play each other. You have Becker and Ivanisevic are out first round, so you can't have a Becker/Sampras round because they're not going to play each other.

Q. Looking down the road a couple of years in the possible loss of some sponsors, do you think the WTA is trying to support too many players?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Say that again, the beginning of it?

Q. You've got about 800 ranked players.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: They're not supported, they're not making money. I don't think the WTA is supporting too many players. We have a membership of about 180 players, 180 people eligible to -- there's other people eligible to be members and I think we're in the right ball park as far as how many players can make a living playing tennis. Being ranked number 800 just means you can get into a $10,000 tournament here and there. But obviously you're not a professional tennis player when you play three tournaments that are in your area. It is not somebody trying to make a living playing tennis. And the loss of sponsorship, we didn't lose sponsors, they really chose to go elsewhere, and if you look at women's tennis compared to men's s tennis, our longevity is much higher. We've had Virginia Slims for over 20 years, and also the tournaments that have sponsors, the local promoters -- the local presenters, rather, they are long term also most of them are there for five, ten years. So when you're talking about sponsors in women's tennis, most sponsors have been very happy with their relationship with the women's tennis, and have stayed around and renewed their contracts. If you look at men's tennis, I think in comparison most of them are one-shot deals, they sign a three-year deal and after three years it's somebody else that comes because they lost too much money.

Q. Martina, was there any particular issue or reason that prompted you to run for another term?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: For another term?

Q. Yes.


Q. You have served as president previously.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, yes, that was 1979 or something.

Q. Is there anything in particular, the state of the game or that you have to contribute?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I have the time. I have the time. I wanted to do it last year but I didn't have the time, and there were a lot of meetings that the president had to go to and a lot of time that had to be put into it that Pam Shriver already had done. There were a lot of unresolved issues last year and I quite frankly said I cannot give it the time I would like to be the president and figure head, but I don't have the time, I'm still playing and I have four more tournaments and I don't really start running the operations until the Slims Championships and I'll have plenty of time next year to give it all that it needs.

Q. What role will you play as president in the debate over the age at which players start?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: That really is out of my jurisdiction. There's and an Age Eligibility Commission set up and they are presenting their findings next week and they've been doing all the work, listening to all the people involved, players, coaches, agents, parents, and they will report their findings and give their recommendations next week. I have been asked what I think, but I'm not going to be saying, this is what needs to be done. I will listen to the people that put in the work. I can delegate very well.

Q. But you legally can't abstain somebody from trying to earn a living.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Of course you can.

Q. It's against the Constitution.


Q. Sure.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: So you can be 14 years old and play in the NFL?

Q. If you're good enough. It's come to trial a number of times.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You cannot be 14 years old and play in the NFL.

Q. Martina, you've talked so much about wanting to spend time doing other things. So many things on you're list you're looking forward to doing next year; why do this, why stay in the game?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: That's a good question, because I've been saying no to everything, but somebody brought up, why don't you run for president, it just struck a cord. My first instinct has been to say no to everything else. My first instinct to that was, oh, I could do that. So, once I realized that my heart said that would be a good thing to do, I started thinking about it intellectually and rationally and realized this is a great way for me to give something back off the court. Bud Collins has been telling me to play one more year, tennis needs me, and I think tennis needs me better in this capacity than on the court because when my heart isn't in the game anymore, I wasn't going to do anybody any good in the second or third round. But I think I can have a positive impact on the game as president, and stay involved, stay in the game. I still have to come -- now I'll have an excuse to come to Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and I'm quite happy to do all the work that I have to do on the phone via fax. It just struck a cord. Until it was brought up to me, I just didn't think about that far ahead, but, I just wanted my independence and now that I have it I'm like, oh my God, what do I do now. Be careful what you ask for, you might get it. But I'm quite excited about the prospect and feel right about my choice. Ask me a year from now how I feel about my decision, but I'll stick it out this year and hopefully I'll let everybody feel the same excitement.

Q. Will it exclude anything; if somebody says, will you coach me, will you say no; I'm --

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I wasn't going to coach next year.

Q. It won't disrupt anything --

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It is not going to keep me from windsurfing and snowboarding or keeping me from going to Africa on a safari.

Q. Do you like the way the WTA is organized now that you're going to be president; any changes you can see or you would like to see?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: As far as on the court or --

Q. Both.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I've already said I'm not going to discuss the on-the-court stuff and we are in the middle of integration with the tournament promoters, directors and the ITF and WTA. So it's going to be a whole new world for everybody, and hopefully, it will be a better way to run the game, but that's a big change, and I had nothing to do with that. I was just a part of it, so, we'll just have to see how it goes. I think the players will be more accessible to the media -- were you at the party last night?

Q. No, I wasn't.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Because the running theme there was-- all the speeches that the players made at the party last night was they want to give something back. So I think the players know they need to be more accessible to the media as well as the fans and develop a better relationship and also with the sponsors. So, I think that's the one change that you will see where the players are wanting to give something back to the game. They realize they've just been taking and it's time to give something back and we'll see if the actions match the words. It's much easier said than done, and I think that's also where I can make a difference. I can say I've done it. Now it's time for you to pick up the slack and do this interview even though you don't feel like. Go meet the sponsor even though you don't feel like it you can practice a half hour later. However, I think the players will listen to me if I make those requests because I've done it. I'm not just telling them it's good for you. I know it's good for you because I've done it. It's easier to lead by actions rather than words and I think that's part of my -- that's one of the pluses that I would have as president.

Q. TV-- Ted Turner was trying to cut losses as far as the bad ratings for the Goodwill Games. Is TV -- do you feel improving television coverage for the women is going to make or break the future of the women's game?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, I don't think you can put it down to any one group, this is going to make all the difference. But it certainly is a part of the whole picture and from what I've heard from other people, there's not enough women's tennis on TV. You've got a lot of men's tennis and during the Grand Slams it's also men's tennis and people are saying we don't see enough women. We hear it from the fans. I played an exhibition in New Haven last week. They were saying they don't see enough women's tennis, whether it be live or on TV and I just would like to see more tennis on TV in a good quality. Now, if there was another point made going to the 20 seconds between the point which speeds up the game, but that makes it difficult for TV because they don't get to say everything they want to say between points. So you have to weigh all those different constituencies, what's really good for the game. What's good for the players may be bad for the spectators. What's good for the spectators may be bad for the TV, et cetera, et cetera. So all those things have to be weighed, but I certainly would have to say that more TV -- if women's tennis game is successful on TV, then it's going to be successful everywhere else. So it's part of the big picture.

Q. Disagreeing with Ted Turner?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I'm not going to disagree with Ted Turner. The man knows what he's doing, obviously. Doesn't it say in the constitution you have to be 16 years old before you earn full wages? 16 years old. So, excuse me, sir, I think you were wrong about the constitution. You can't keep people from making a living but you can prevent them when they're ten years old. You're supposed to be in school when you're ten years old.

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