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September 9, 2006
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Have you ever served better?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: A long time ago (laughing).
Well, you know, I don't usually have Bob Bryan at the net. But I think I hit like one or two. Well, I had to hit two great first volleys in that last game I served. Otherwise, I think I hit one volley the whole match.
But I served well. They had a hard time returning it. I mean, even Martin, who is probably one of the best backhand returners in the game, he had a hard time returning it because I put a lot of spin on it. Really coming through. It was sweet.
Bob is such a threat at the net. Looking at him so much, don't have time to look at my ball, so...
But my serve has come a long way. I've been serving a lot better. It makes the if the woman can hold serve, then it's pretty good, especially with Bob throwing bombs there. Like I said, I didn't have to be on the court when he was serving.
BOB BRYAN: You were serving for the match there...
Q. It's pretty rare that an athlete can actually retire with a win.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It's nice.
Q. Two wins in a row.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, yeah. In Montreal.
Well, it's just nice to go on a win. I've got to I just kept playing until I won eight tournaments somewhere. But this definitely puts more pressure on when you say, This is your last event, and every match you play might be your last one.
But, uhm, that was weird. But now that I knew this was my last one, I was as relaxed as I've ever been. It was amazing. I felt so calm all day. The hardest thing was just waiting for the match. Such a long time. And eating not too much, but enough, you know, because I never played a final at 10:30 at night.
So, I mean, yesterday by 11:00 I was exhausted. I was ready to go to sleep. So, I thought, Okay, if I can stay awake a little bit longer so I can sleep in and try to pretend I was in California, so I can sleep. Not be too jet lagged when I play.
But Bob was spectacular. It was easy.
Q. Do you remember your feeling after winning your first tournament? Could you talk a little bit about that.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: My first tournament in singles or my first Grand Slam?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: My first tournament in singles, yeah, I hugged a pole. I played in Orlando in '74. I was with myself. After I won the match, I was so happy and there was nobody to hug because I didn't know anybody. So I hugged a pole, a light pole, next to the umpire's chair. There was a picture in the paper the next day. I won $10,000 and had to give it back to the Czech Federation. Yeah, so, I was playing on $17 a day per diem. Those were the days (smiling).
So, yeah, I remember it very well. This is nice to finish on a winning note, yeah.
And, please, you know, everybody keeps "supposedly" her last match or whatever, "perhaps" the last match, this was the last match. No more. No more. You can say "definitely." It's not "allegedly." This is definite.
BOB BRYAN: We have to defend our title, don't we (smiling)?
Q. How would you sum up what a lot of us, I guess, are thinking of as Chapter 2 of your career, and did you think that it was going to last this long and be this much fun when you started?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No and no. And could have been better; could have been worse. I mean, you know, probably could have won more in the women's doubles. I struggled with partners. I had a hard time catching on somebody that we really meshed well. I thought Lisa and I were gonna do really well. Then we just didn't match up well.
And, uhm, now I found a great partner in Nadia Petrova. I wish I had her a couple years ago; we could have done some damage. But I didn't. So, you know, I was always sort of trying to find somebody. That's why I think I've done so much better in mixed, because I had true doubles partners in mixed.
Actually, the mixed I think is more difficult to win than the doubles because there's so many more teams that can win the whole thing. If you look at overall history of mixed doubles, there are some teams that you would never think had a chance in the beginning of the tournament and they win the whole thing.
Mixed has played more like normal doubles for me. That's where I shine.
So, overall, it could have been better; could have been worse, certainly. I'm happy with the way I've been playing this year, particularly. I really just wanted to give it one more year and see how I could play. Now I feel like I can't play any better unless I just give my life up and just play tennis. So that's why I'm giving up tennis, because, you know, I want to have more of my life back together.
But now I'm getting on another tangent, so...
Yeah, I did not think I was gonna have as much fun as I had. Perhaps not playing not singles, so much more relaxed.
Q. What did Chapter 2 mean to you personally? What did it add to you personally?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Uhm, it's just a challenge, you know, trying to see how well I can still play and not listen to the nay sayers that I can't do it anymore because I'm too old, I haven't played for too long. I'm breaking a record every time I play, every time I win, because it's another I'm older than I was the week before.
So just hoping to inspire people. I mean, I got so inspired by the fans and the reactions that I had over the years with people saying, It's amazing how you do it, you know, how can you do it. I ended up writing the book because of that, Shape Yourself.
So I just wanted to keep inspiring people, the way they inspired me, and sort of show people that you can do great things regardless of your age if you just believe and, you know, go for it.
Q. In a couple of months you will get a letter, believe it or not, from AARP.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, I know. Next month.
Q. Next month, that's true. This is September. Do you kind of laugh at that? When you talk about inspiring people, are you trying to inspire senior citizens?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, because I think I'm inspiring 20 year olds, too. I mean, you should have heard the kids just when I was signing now. You know, introduced my kind of tennis to a new generation, and that's fun. When you have 10 year olds saying, Ms. Navratilova, can I please have your autograph, you're the greatest. I'm like, okay, this is cool, another generation that I've introduced to the game I love and show it how it can be played.
So I try to inspire everyone really so you don't get limited by people that say, No, you can't do that because you're too old or because you're heavy or you just, you know, you're not an athlete. Whatever your limitations might be, don't let them define you. I didn't let it define me. When I first said I was gonna play, my father said, Oh, no, you're gonna end in the first round. I lost in the second round (smiling). I was just gonna keep going until I got everything out of myself.
And that's what it's about, giving your best every single day. That's how I hope to inspire people regardless of age, you know. I think the way I look is inspiring to a 50 year old as well as a 20 year old as well as an 80 year old. Maybe an 80 year old can't be as good as I am, but a 30 year old would probably like to be in as good a shape as I am.
Q. Despite the after life, how much long you do you think you could have gone on at this pace?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: For sure another five years, at least. You know, all my joints are working great. I mean, I've had some knee injuries this last year, but...
But other than that, I mean, my knee's getting better even as I'm playing. So indefinitely. Indefinitely.
Anybody have a question for Bob?
Q. What would you say to that very young, very scared person in the immigration office as she was about to start on her American journey? Was it worth it all? Can you put it in a few phrases, the impact of Martina Navratilova?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Me talking to myself?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I wasn't scared. I wasn't scared at all. I was excited.
I was worried that I may never see my family again, but I wasn't scared about what I was doing. If I had been scared, I wouldn't have done it. Scared doesn't win. Scared doesn't inspire. Scared doesn't do anything.
That's what we tried to do today, play inspiring tennis. I didn't play scared. I didn't play nervous. I just played the way I can play. That's what I would say to anybody, Just do what you love, love what you do and leave it all out there no matter what. You have to keep believing.
I think the most the biggest thing for athletes is that we really don't quit until we get it right. Just keep going. You know, try to turn every leaf over until, you know, you find all the answers.
Q. You said just sticking up for what you believe, was there any time that was the very toughest for you where you really had to dig down the deepest to stay true to yourself?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, I never had a problem staying true to myself.
Q. Can you tell us where you were, where your heart, mind and body were today when you were preparing, or maybe when you got up today? Was your heart heavy that this was your last match? Were you just excited? You said you felt fit. But was your mindset different from other matches?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I knew this was my last match and I was, like I said, as relaxed and calm. I'm like I'm almost too calm, I have to get fired up, because I was just so happy about where I was, exactly. I mean, I'm quitting because I want to, not because I need to or because I have to. I want to.
Tennis is such a great life. It has given me such a great life, but I'm ready sort of to move on. I still will stay in tennis and refocus my efforts elsewhere, but, uhm, I was just ready to go.
I knew I was gonna play great tonight. There was no doubt about it. I was like I was as relaxed as I've ever been before a match. It was really weird, actually.
Q. Do you have a barn or a guest house where you keep all your trophies?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Actually, most of them are at the Hall of Fame, International Hall of Fame, because I've been moving around too much. Eventually I'll get a trophy case organized.
But in the old days we didn't get that many trophies. Even the Australian Open didn't have any trophies, replicas of. Finally when the tournament complained, finally they made them, and they made them like this big (indicating with her forefinger and thumb).
Most tournaments didn't give trophies. They just gave you a check and a dozen roses. The roses have died long ago and the money has been well spent. Don't have that many trophies left over, actually.
Q. What do you think is your greatest contribution to the game? Secondly, if you were to single out one victory, what would that be?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I can't. It's the body of work, you know. That's it. I mean, today was a big part of it.
I'm just so thankful to Bob that he gave me this opportunity to finish on a winning note. Can't say thank you enough for that.
BOB BRYAN: Thank you.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It was just a blast to play. It's like, oh, makes me want to keep playing because it's so much fun.
My contribution to the game, I don't know. You have to ask other people. But, you know, I always say I like to think that I played tennis the way I think it ought to be played; I like the variety I brought to the game, the athleticism.
But, you know, I just feel that sometimes I made magic with the ball, and, you know, that's fun. That's fun to be part of that.
Q. How do you cut up that trophy?
BOB BRYAN: She can take it. It's hers. She carried me.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: We both get one.
Q. You do?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah.
Q. Bob has previously spoken about what you mean to him and so forth. But could you speak a little bit about Bob. He's playing a pretty important role in American tennis.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, at the French Open, I watched I got to practice early and Bob and Mike were practicing. I just watched and just enjoyed. I sat there for like 45 minutes and just watched them hit. That was actually more fun than watching them playing matches because they're just see them work the trade.
And yesterday when Bob was practicing and his dad said, okay, Five more forehands this way, I mean, it was like clockwork. He's a total pro.
But most of all, they both have such great enthusiasm for the game, and doing it with such passion and spirit. That's what inspires people. That's how I try to play the game. That's what inspires me to see it in others. It's great to see that torch go up. I'm wondering why Bob's not playing singles with that serve, bloody hell.
Q. You had a Zen calm going into your last match. What were your emotions actually when you left the court for the last time in a competitive environment?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Again, I'm leaving on my own terms, so that's what's nice. And leaving on a winning note. It's nice to win that last match. So I can just sort of put my feet up and have a beer and not worry about, you know, the fact that if I have a beer, the next morning it's gonna be harder getting out of bed, because I don't have to worry about practice tomorrow.
Q. You feel happy you're leaving?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I'm happy that I'm leaving. I'm excited about the new possibilities in my life and what I'll be doing. Like I said, I'll stay in tennis; I'll just rechannel it differently. Looking forward to passing on the knowledge that I've gained over the years to the next generation. And, you know, promoting my book and the Rainbow Card. I'll be plenty busy.
But I'm, you know this is a closed chapter now, and it's great. I feel not nostalgic, just happy because I had such a great run and finished it on the right note. It's after midnight; it's past my bedtime. This is the latest press conference I've ever had. See, you never know. There's always something new, you know? Always something new that's never been done before, so...
Q. What does it mean to you to end your career here? I wonder if you'd talk a little bit about what the Open has meant to you overall.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It's great, yeah. I wanted to win one more at Wimbledon. I think if I had won there, I probably would have stopped playing, because I wanted to finish on a winning note and not push my luck. But I'm very glad that it happened here.
Again, like I said, it was great that Bob wanted to play with me. Because now we have an All American title here.
And winning at home, certainly is very, very special. So, uhm, I can't say that one would have been better than the other. But I'm glad that it happened here. We got primetime and, you know, a lot of people stayed. So it was sweet (smiling).
Q. Ideally, Martina, what role would you like to play in tennis? Can you be specific?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, no. I don't know. I don't want to step on anybody's toes.
But just contribute, whatever way I can. Because it's a game that we all love, and want to make it as good as possible. There's certainly a lot of improvements that can be made, and, you know, still make it more fan friendly and all that.
But that's another press conference.
Q. Helping someone?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah, I'll be helping. I'll be helping some people.
Q. Luke Jensen is now the head coach of women at Syracuse. He said that he wants to train his team from here forward to play your style.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Hmm, good.
Q. Do you think that's what American tennis needs?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It would just be great. Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you.
Q. That's it.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It would be great to see more serve and volleying out there. But, again, it's more difficult with the racquets, the way they're set up, to be successful at it. But it can still be done.
So just to see more all around game; see people chip and charge once in a while, or take the first serve, smack it and come in. Just a little more variety. You see it, you see glimpses of it with Justine Henin, with Mauresmo, with, of course, Federer. And even Nadal is getting more adventurous coming to the net, and, you know, being more creative.
It's nice to see that because it's there are some unbelievable hitters of the ball, but they're not complete tennis players. It would be fun to see more complete tennis.
Hope that will be my legacy. Thank you.
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