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January 23, 2012

Martina Navratilova


THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  Should I just start?  I got my first win over Martina Hingis in the senior event yesterday.  Played really well.  God it was hot.  Geez, I don't know how they do it.  I've just been practicing indoors, and it was brutal.
It wasn't hot enough for them to close the roof.  I'm like, Bloody hell.  Glad I'm not playing anymore.  I don't know how they do it.

Q.  How is it to be back at Melbourne Park?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  Well, I've been here every year, so it's just nice to play again.

Q.  This is the first time the Women's Legends has been...
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  Well, that's true.  They had mixed doubles here in like, I don't know, 2003, 2004.  They had some mixed doubles, but no women's doubles.
Then they stopped completely for the women.  I was badgering Steve Wood for a couple of years, and now they got a tryout with six women, three doubles teams.  Hopefully we'll have more next year.  I think it went well.  We had a packed house yesterday, so the interest is definitely there.
I think the more of these you do the more the top players will want to play.  Arantxa Sanchez and Amélie Mauresmo are here, but they're not playing I think we'll get some really good fields, and it's great to be playing again of in front of a very appreciative crowd, a very forgiving crowd.

Q.  I don't know if you just watched Petra play...

Q.  What do you think of her play this week?  What specifically in her game makes her such a threat?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  You don't watch Tennis Channel, see.  Because the book on Petra is power everywhere.  She can change the direction of the ball really well on both sides.  Usually players it's just maybe the backhand or the forehand, but she can do it on both sides.  Great serving and she mixes it up well.
Today she was all over the service box, meaning mixed it up almost 50% forehand, backhand.  She's got the big serve out wide as well, so have to guard against the slice.
But she's got the flat down the T in the ad court or out wide in the deuce court.  She's got the kick serve on the second as well as the slice, so huge variety on the serve.
And her attitude is fantastic.¬† She's really fired up from the getgo.¬† Today she hit a whiff on the overhead ‑‑ embarrassed as heck.¬† Shanked like six balls in a row, but got it together, held serve.¬† 30‑All comes up with a big serve.
In years past and even last year she would lose those matches or lose her concentration.  But now she gets it back together.  She's tough.  I'm glad I'm not the on the other side of the net.

Q.¬† Do you see her as the next big thing for women's tennis, and do you think women's tennis need a sort of stand‑out star?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  Well, we do.  Clearly nobody feels that Wozniacki is a true No. 1.  If we still had the same ranking system we were using six years ago when they were giving bonus points for beating players, Kvitova would have ended up No. 1 because she had beaten more top players than Wozniacki.
Wozniacki doesn't even have that great of a record in her career or the last four years over the top 10 or against the top 5; whereas Petra you feel really imposes herself on the match and any player.
With the absence of Serena playing enough, we need some superstars that you really feel like they're holding their own.  I think Petra has that possibility.  Azarenka is coming up as well.  She's playing good ball.  Can't be overlooked.  Although she's never been to a Grand Slam final, but she's looking the part more and more.
So, yeah.  But that takes time to develop that kind of rivalry as well as personality.  She's there.

Q.  Do you feel that Caroline deserves the No. 1?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  It's not about deserve.  She's No. 1 because that's how they set up the computer ranking.
But, again, if you had the system from six years ago she wouldn't be; if we had the system from 15 years ago she wouldn't be.
But she is the way it is.  It weighs too much on quantity and not enough on quality.

Q.  Let's put it another way:  Should she be No. 1 without a slam?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  That's irrelevant.  I think if you won 15 tournaments and not slams, you're No. 1 because you have the best record of anybody.  So I don't think the asterisk is not having won a slam.
The year before she was No. 1 because she had by far the best record, period.¬† Never mind the slams.¬† This last year it was even with Petra, but had two majors with the season‑end Championships and Wimbledon, of course.
Fed Cup doesn't count.  In Davis Cup the matches count and in Fed Cup they don't.  So it's like, you know she was penalized every single step of the way.
So, you know, Caroline doesn't need to explain why she was No. 1, it's the WTA that needs to explain that.

Q.  Does the system need to go back where it was?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:¬† Well, I would just like for it to be weighted in that it's a better‑‑ I don't think that's a true reflection of how a player is playing right now because too many tournaments don't count and great wins don't count.
They both get to a semis and one player beats No. 1 player and No. 3 player to get to the semis and the other one gets qualifiers and they get the same amount of points.  It doesn't make any sense.

Q.  Your voice is not heard when you talk about this to the WTA?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  My voice is not heard?  I guess I don't know.  Maybe they will hear it now.  But I asked are they changing the system, and they have no intention to.  I think it's a mistake.

Q.  First they should change the stats, because there are so many bad.  For instance, you're supposed to have won Canadian Open in 1980 where you won Montréal 1980.  So there are a lot of...
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  So I won two tournaments then?  (Laughter.)  I think John Dolan has got all those numbers.  Talk to him.

Q.  What are your thoughts on the unrest with the ATP players about sharing of the Grand Slam money?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  Well, I think the Grand Slams are making a lot more than they're sharing with the players.  I think that's a fact.  When the players try to talk to them, the Grand Slam are like, Oh, well.  Get lost.  Too bad.
So I mean, if the men and women got together I think the Grand Slams would listen.  When they're separated they can do what they want, which is what they've been doing.
I mean, the players made the slams big and the slams made the players big.  It's a very symbiotic relationship, but the slams are ruling the roost.  They dictate everything to the players:  what you have to play, the points, the size of the logos.
I think tennis is really missing out on that.  When you see golf the logos are much bigger in golf.  I think a lot more money would be made if the rules were a little more reasonable on that.
The Grand Slams are dictating, and they'll keep dictating as long as the men and women are separated.

Q.  Do you think the players are underpaid?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  Underpaid at the slams?  Well, compared to what the slams are making, yes.  Compared to what a teacher is a making, we are grossly overpaid.  Compared to what the slams are grossing or netting I should say, they are underpaid.  And it's two weeks, not one week.
I was just doing an interview for the Australian Open for their official film, and I think I won $6,000 when I got to the finals here in '74.  So, you know...

Q.  Do you have any ambivalence about your court assignment yesterday?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  Which I needed to make so I could pay the airline ticket back to the States.  The Czech Federation cut me off at that point I became a professional.
And playing on Margaret Court Arena, it's an honor, as always, to be on that court.¬† You know, it's not‑‑ it's a personal issue.¬† Clearly Margaret Court's views that she has expressed on same‑sex marriage, same‑gender marriage, I think are outdated.
But it's not about any one person.  It's not about religious rights, it's about human rights.  It's a secular view, not a religious view.
She's only seeing it from one viewpoint.¬† The biggest concern I have there is opponents of same‑sex marriage keep saying, Well, children should have a father and a mother.¬† Well, they don't.¬† What are you going to do about the kids?
Anyway, that's another issue.  I think it goes outside of tennis.

Q.  Have you spoken to her?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  I have not seen her.  I have spoken to her years ago, but, you know, she was all about Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.  She repeated that about four or five times, so I just felt I couldn't get through to her.  Maybe she thought she could get through to me.  Anyway...

Q.  Wozniacki said last night that Kim has to play her best to beat her.  Just wondering, watching Caroline at this tournament, if you've seen enough real improvements from her that you might share the same view?

Q.  Yeah.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  Yeah, she's playing better.  She's going for her shots a little more.  Solid as ever, but she is a little more adventurous out there.  I still feel she can go for the shots more.
If you watch tapes from her four, five years ago she was going for broke a lot more.  Then she just get into this defensive mode.
But it's going to be a fascinating match really, because they both play so similar.  But Kim may be going for a little more if she can move.  We'll see what the ankle is doing after the match yesterday.
But she'll have the crowd on her side and nothing to lose, because she's playing on borrowed time big time after yesterday.

Q.¬† Azarenka you mentioned her before.¬† She's had good first‑week runs in slams before and reached her first semi last year in Wimbledon.¬† What are you looking for her to do?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  Yeah, I think she's never looked as good a she does now.  Just consistent throughout, and mentally I think she's gotten better.  Like she almost had a meltdown when she ran out of challenges the other day.  She didn't manage the challenges very well and she learned a lesson there.
But she kept it together enough to still win the match and not self‑destruct.¬† I think she's mentally tougher than she's been.
Apparently she had kind of an Ah‑Ha moment when she was feeling sorry for herself and burned out, life is so difficult, this and that.¬† Her grandmother said, Listen Darling, I worked three jobs.¬† So that put it in perspective, and she's been a different person since then.
So I think she's maturing nicely.  We keep talking about is this is her breakthrough and this is the best she's looked and her best chance to get to a Grand Slam final.
Once she gets to the final she's going to be tough to beat because she's really, really motivated.  You can say that about everybody else out there.

Q.  Who do like from the women's side?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  Azarenka to get to the finals.  And on the bottom, I think it'll be a battle between Serena and Kvitova in the semis.  I think I just give a slight edge to Petra because she's played more matches and has got a big game.  Serena hasn't really been tested.
But playing best tennis, if Serena plays her best tennis against anybody, she's the best player.  Just a matter of whether she can bring it.  I don't know if she's got the mobility; she certainly has the willpower.

Q.  What other similarities you see between and you Kvitova when you were young and had more kilos than now?  Do you think she can improve her fitness condition?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:¬† She has more kilos than me now.¬† (Laughter.)¬† She always had more kilos than me because she's so much taller.¬† She's very fit.¬† She's extremely fit.¬† She had an amazing off‑season program, and it's paying off.
Her footwork is so much better than it was a year ago, and she wants it badly.  She's not worried about the ranking.  She just wants to be the best tennis player she can be, and that's a great attitude.

Q.  Delicate question.  How do you explain that sometimes men are heterosexual at the beginning and they become gay during their life?  Doesn't happen the opposite with women when they turn to be homosexual?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA:  You don't turn.  Do you turn straight?  No, you didn't.  You don't turn gay.
No, I think you don't know enough about the issue when you frame a question like that.  You don't just turn.  You either are or not.

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