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August 30, 2010

Christiane Amanpour

Gloria Estefan

Martina Navratilova


CHRIS WIDMAIER: Thank you very much for joining us. We just had our very special opening night ceremony. Obviously joined by some very special guests. I'm going to ask Martina Navratilova to sit in the middle here, and she'll be flanked by Christiane Amanpour and Gloria Estefan. Once they get situated, we'll open it up to questions.

Q. Martina, I'd like to ask you a question. How can you possibly connect the dots or compare leaving your homeland, overcoming or fighting homophobia, coming out, and now your battle against a deadly disease.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Like I said, it's the positive attitude that gets you through life, and it is a choice. I've always been too much of an optimist where I sort of ignore bad stuff until it sits right here in front of me; whereas my sister always worried about everything that could go wrong.
I'm saying nothing is gonna go wrong, and when it does, that's when I deal with it. That's how I've gotten through life. I think it's done me pretty well. I think we all share that optimism and eternal hope in human spirit. And I have to start with myself. I can't be hoping for that in others if I don't have it myself.
So it all relates, whether it's tennis or real life. Whether it's your health issues or winning tennis matches or dealing with the death of your parents, you have to just keep going and have a positive attitude and make the most of what you have.

Q. Where does this sport where you hit a ball back and forth over a net come into all of this?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Like I said, you have to have a positive attitude to be a champion, to be a great tennis player, and you have to be in the moment. I think, again, that's what life is about. And if tennis is not the essence of that, because if you're not with that ball right that split second, if you're just a second late wondering, Oh, did I hit that well? It's too late.
You have to be right in the moment. Again, that translates into real life very nicely.

Q. Christiane, I saw your program this Sunday on TV. Are you going to do a feature story on the US Open this year?
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Sometimes I used to wish I was a sports reporter. It's a good thing I wasn't, because I don't have all the credentials that you guys do.
But I've loved tennis since I was a child. I grew up in Iran. I used to ball boy or ball girl, or whatever, all my sisters did. I tried to learn. My first coach told me I had feet like a camel and I didn't run fast enough.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Keep going; never stop.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: It's just so great to be here and have had the opportunity to have done this tonight and to be here with Martina and all the other great honorees.
For us who watch tennis and get inspired by it, it is something inspirational, because certainly when you sit in the grandstand or any court and you watch two people matched against each other and you see them giving everything, it is a real metaphor for everything in life.
I think that's what is so engaging in tennis, and goes way beyond the normal tennis crowd. It's so appealing to people who don't play and just really get a kick out of watching as well. Because it says everything about the human spirit, I think.

Q. Gloria, are you still with Epic Records, still recording?
GLORIA ESTEFAN: No, I'm not. I finished my Sony time. But I'm working on some new music. Nowadays things have totally shifted. The music industry is in a totally different place. The multi-nationals are great, if it works. But I've been there, done that. We have such an organization that we have mounted through the years, that we actually did more of the heavy lifting in the work in my career ourselves.
We prefer it that way because we're more in control. So having that experience, we'd rather keep the ball in our court, if I can use that pun (laughter).
But, yeah, still working on a lot of things. Children's books, we've got the hospitality thing still growing. We're about to open our eighth restaurant, and surprises down the line.

Q. Miami restaurants?
GLORIA ESTEFAN: No. It's not going to be only in Miami. We have in Mexico; we're looking at Panama; we have the new Hard Rock in Seminole, a little further north in Miami, Vero Beach.
GLORIA ESTEFAN: It's a Hard Rock Cafe. We're open a Bongos. They have a casino down in Miami. Well, north of Miami. So we're going to be part of that with them there. But we have separate ones all over. In Miami, Vero Beach where we have a hotel.

Q. Gloria, do you go to the Sony Ericsson a lot, and what are some of your memories?
GLORIA ESTEFAN: I love it. I wonder how those players can play in the heat. Even in the wintertime, it's like being on a baster, like today here coming in today.
It's wonderful. It's great for our city. It's a very exciting sport. When I was listening to Martina and Christiane speaking, the great thing about tennis, it gives you an opportunity. If you can't get on a team, every kid can play. If you want to play, there's a lot of opportunities. There's public courts.
Then it depends just on you and how you train yourself. You don't have to depend on being chosen to be a part of a team. Tennis is a great sport for individuality and to give kids opportunity to shine in a sport.

Q. Martina, can you describe your thoughts on the schedule on the women's tennis tour and the grind, perhaps the assertions by John McEnroe the other day that maybe the schedule needs to be looked at more carefully, especially for women?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Has anybody done comparative numbers on the number of injuries last five or ten years in the top hundred between the men and the women? No.
I would like to see the numbers first. I'm trying to find out actually what the numbers are. There have been too many injuries and the schedule is too long. It's the same for the men and the women. Roger has been complaining about it. Rafa has been complaining about it. I've been talking since the '80s that we need to have a shorter schedule.
We need to have a longer off-season. We don't have an off-season. Our off-season is about six weeks. For some guys it's less than that because they're playing Davis Cup in December.
We used to play on either clay or grass with wooden racquets and natural gut. Now we're playing on hard courts with metal racquets and man-made strings. That's got to go somewhere. Everybody is hitting the ball harder. Season needs to be shorter, there is no doubt about it.
But I disagree very strongly that it's a women's issue. It's a tennis issue, period.

Q. You see a lot of players who are married nowadays. It was once thought that being married was almost deleterious to your tennis career. You couldn't have total focus on your career. What has been your observation about that?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: In the World Cup, when the guys are playing football in Europe, right, on teams, they have a normal married life and they go to the World Cup. Look what the French and the English did in South Africa when they were separated from their wives. It's not a good idea.
Try to have life as normal. I mean, it used to be mothers couldn't play. Past 30 you were done. Really, 25. I mean, times have changed. Still the body will take its toll. But being married, I think if you're happy and can have your spouse with you, even better.
Yeah, I mean, because we make that much more money now, we can travel with our family and friends and make life as normal as possible. So I think that's an old wives' tale.

Q. Martina, I wanted to ask you about Melanie Oudin. She was saying today the doctor told her she's probably not going to grow anymore. That was a very sad day for her. Can you talk about what you see in her game.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think if I was a parent of a prodigy, I would have their growth plates checked and see what's the possibility here, because really it's become a very big game of tall players, both on the men's and women's side. It's a big handicap. Look how amazing Justine Henin has to be to compete with players that are four, five, six inches taller than she is.
You just have to come up with something else, grow your own weapons. She's got speed. She's got a great mind. Appetite for a fight. She doesn't back away from competition. But she's got to have a little extra, there's no doubt about it. Because if she stretches and Venus Williams stretches, Venus is about this much closer to the ball. That's a lot to give up on every single shot.
She can still do well, but it's a hard fight.

Q. Gloria, your thoughts on the Miami Heat and what they mean with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, what your expectations are?
GLORIA ESTEFAN: Expectations? What a show. We are the center of the basketball universe right now in Miami. I think it's very exciting. I was very happy to see that happen, because we were afraid to lose Wade because they were double-teaming him, triple-teaming him. He was the main scorer. He takes a big risk by staying with a team that wasn't getting enough people to score beside him.
I think it's going to be phenomenal to watch. No matter what happens, that is going to be something to see. Sold out already. Everybody is so excited. We're really geared up and very happy. And my daughter plays basketball, so we're big fans of that sport as well, beside football, needless to say.
CHRIS WIDMAIER: Thank you, everybody.

End of FastScripts

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