Navratilova: I'm still good enough to compete
Posted: Friday December 31, 2004 1:31AM; Updated: Friday December 31, 2004 1:31AM
Martina Navratilova was eliminated by Gisela Dulko in the second round at Wimbledon last summer.
GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) -- Martina Navratilova said Friday she's still on the tennis circuit because she's good and continues to work hard to improve her game.
The 48-year-old Navratilova, entered in the doubles draw at the Australian hardcourt championships at Royal Pines, also took issue with critics who say her longevity is due to the lack of depth in women's tennis.
"I've been asked that question for the past five years and frankly I consider it an insult," Navratilova said at a news conference. "Women's tennis is really strong and all I can say is I'm that damn good.
"I'm sorry but I really have to blow my own horn here -- I'm still that good. The ball doesn't know how old you are."
Navratilova, winner of 58 Grand Slam titles, accused the media of double standards when reporting on male athletes coming back from retirement and playing well.
"[Ice hockey's] Mario Lemieux came back after two years and started scoring goals and all the reporters were saying, 'wow he's really good,' but when a woman does it, they question the standard of competition she's playing in," said Navratilova, who retired earlier this year.
"You wouldn't ask John McEnroe that question would you?"
She said she has worked hard on her flexibility to keep her game in touch.
"Since 1984 I haven't lost a match from being tired and I might be playing some singles events this season depending on the surface," she said.
"The main problem is movement but I've worked on that and I feel I really have time to hit the ball. I have changed my grip a lot with both shots and worked hard on my flexibility."
Navratilova returns to competition Sunday on the same courts where she teamed with Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova to win the Australian hardcourt doubles title in 2003. It was Navratilova's first appearance in Australia in 14 years.
This year, she is playing with defending tournament singles champion Nathalie Dechy of France.
Elsewhere, Lindsay Davenport of the United States has been replaced by Meghann Shaughnessy in the American team at the Hopman Cup mixed team event at Perth, Australia. Davenport and James Blake, who is returning on the American team, won last year's title.
The Americans play their first match Tuesday against the winner of Saturday's qualifying match between the Netherlands and Zimbabwe.
Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.