Martina Navratilova Admiration Thread - Page 6 -
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post #76 of 1017 (permalink) Old Jun 27th, 2002, 08:17 PM
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All the Martina-bashing in General Messages is getting depressing.

Navratilova solidarity movement starts here!
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post #77 of 1017 (permalink) Old Jun 28th, 2002, 03:11 PM
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Hope this makes you feel better saki-Martina's 1987 Wimbledon win.

Turned Away by Old Glory, Challenger Figures to Press On Unflaggingly
The Washington Post Jul 5, 1987; TONY KORNHEISER;

At the end of "Tin Men," the savvy slice-of-life movie set in Baltimore in 1963, Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito are sitting in a car wondering what next to do with their lives now that they've been drummed out of the aluminum siding business.

Serendipitously, a Volkswagen Beetle passes, and it occurs to both of them simultaneously that they have just seen the future.

Martina, there's someone knocking on your door.

Don't answer it.

Hana Mandlikova has episodes of brilliance, Gabriela Sabatini has a compelling elegance, Helena Sukova and Pam Shriver have commendable talents, and 16-year-old Natalia Zvereva has promise as clear as spring water. But Steffi Graf and her 300-mph forehand is what's coming at you in the sticky heat of the day, with the top down and the radio blasting.

Martina Navratilova shut her down on Saturday, but a little fine tuning back at the shop and she'll be ready to run in the morning.

Would you like to play Martina again soon? Graf was asked.

Breathlessly she said, "Yes," her eyes wide with eagerness.

And would you be confident?

"Why shouldn't I be?"

There are roses at Navratilova's feet today, and they are there deservedly. She won her eighth Wimbledon, tying Helen Wills Moody's record; she won her sixth straight Wimbledon, setting a record of her own. With the gold and silver plates she's taken out of here she now has service for eight, but the plates are so large she'd need a table the size of Asia to eat on. She's won 41 straight matches here-on the most holy courts in tennis-and she's disposed of Chris Evert, Andrea Jaeger, Mandlikova and Graf in finals. There shouldn't be any question in anyone's mind that if Martina Navratilova isn't the greatest player in the history of women's tennis, she's close enough to get in the photo.

But as she supplanted Evert, who supplanted Billie Jean King, who supplanted Margaret Court and onward back in time, so will Graf inevitably supplant her. At 18, her game is far more advanced than was that of Navratilova, who at 18 defected to the United States apparently to eat and soon weighed 165 pounds. And for those of you looking ahead: 13 years from today, in the year 2000, Graf will only be four months older than Martina is now.

Graf came into this tournament a breath away from being No. 1. (Had she won, Graf would have become the only other woman besides Tracy Austin-who did so briefly in 1980-to hold the No. 1 spot other than Navratilova or Evert since computer rankings began in 1975.) She'd won 45 matches in a row, and she was undefeated in 1987. She'd beaten Navratilova on cement and clay already this year. Winning Wimbledon would have made the accession official. It didn't happen; Navratilova was too shrewd and too precise. But consider that this tournament was the third Graf ever played on grass-and the first time on grass in two years! "It's an unbelievable thing, me going to the finals," Graf said. And if she was this good on grass having hardly sniffed it, imagine what she might do to Navratilova on cement, her best surface, at the U.S. Open. We could be looking at Mike Tyson here.

If this was then a last stand for Navratilova, accord her all due glory for marshaling the psychological forces necessary to endure the challenge. This had not been a good year for Navratilova. For the first time since 1974 she came into Wimbledon without having won even one tournament. She double-faulted on match point in the final of the French to Graf; she double-faulted a tie breaker away to Mandlikova in the final of the Australian; she surrendered a 5-0 lead in a set in the final at Eastbourne to Sukova. She wasn't just vulnerable, she was slipshod. She was sending the other women a signal that you didn't have to beat her-if you stayed close she would beat herself. The others finally sensed a mortality in Navratilova's game. For the past few years they'd been so preoccupied watching Evert slip they hadn't noticed Navratilova coming back to the pack as well.

This would be Navratilova's Stalingrad-no defeat, baby, no surrender. She would prepare as never before, plumbing the limits of her courage and will. She would privately acknowledge the unvarnished truth about her celebrated rivalry with Evert: off clay Evert presented no clear and present danger, having lost 22 of their 24 matches since 1982. She allowed that for the first time she wouldn't treat a semifinal against Evert like a final. The significance was obvious: Navratilova was recognizing Graf's move up the ladder and concentrating on her. "Grass is my domain," she announced, a lioness staking out her territory: woe to any trespasser. She conceded her previously flaccid play, confronted her fraying nerves.

"I had beaten myself a couple of times, but there was no doubt it wouldn't happen here. If someone was going to beat me, they'd have to be a better player and do it to me-I wouldn't do it to me," Navratilova said, joyfully discussing her psychological makeover. "I really did a job on myself in my head. Some people may have doubted me, but those who knew me well didn't. If you believe in something hard enough, you will convince yourself. At the French, I couldn't quite see myself winning the last point. Here I couldn't see it ending any other way."

She put all the pressure on herself she could possibly tolerate, opened the doors and said to Graf: Come and get me. And she prevailed in what may have been her most important match since she first beat Evert here in 1978. Navratilova has her eighth Wimbledon and her record sixth in a row. "I have a record that may stand forever," she said proudly. "If it gets broken and I'm still alive, I'd like to be here." Someday we may look back and say the real significance of Navratilova winning No. 6 in 1987 was that Steffi Graf couldn't break that particular record until 1994.
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post #78 of 1017 (permalink) Old Jun 28th, 2002, 03:15 PM
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More a match report on the 87 final. What I remember about this final was Martina taking advantage of Steffi's slice backhand.

It was the most anticipated encounter of the 1987 tennis season. Thirty-year-old Martina Navratilova, the game's most dominating player the last six years, and Steffi Graf, the 18-year-old who had not lost a match this year, in the Wimbledon final. It began with a backhand winner from Graf, but ended with her forehand error.

Navratilova's 7-5, 6-3 win was thoroughly of her own doing, with the help of net cords that seemed to reinforce the notion that she still reigns as queen of Wimbledon.

Graf surely will win here one day. Saturday wasn't the day because she lacked a change of pace. She nearly always plays in fourth gear and if that is not working she seldom downshifts, preferring to maintain the tempo.

Navratilova's plan was clearly to work her way to the net with an approach to Graf's backhand. It worked, although Graf occasionally replied with blistering passing shots. Navratilova was more aggressive and kept Graf under constant pressure to execute spectacular winners.

Graf's record against Navratilova was 3-5 before this match, but she had won in their last two meetings. That might have planted the idea in her mind that Navratilova would be the one to wilt under pressure. After all, Navratilova was trying for a record six Wimbledons in a row and a record-tying eighth singles title overall at the All England.

Graf's method of attack was to serve wide on either side to open the court for her big weapon, a moderately topped but powerfully struck forehand. This worked extremely well in the semifinals against Pam Shriver, but there was an important difference in playing Navratilova: Shriver has only a right-handed sliced backhand and Navratilova is left-handed. Navratilova simply took those balls to her forehands early and hit them back so quickly that Graf seldom had time to measure her own forehand.

On the return of serve, Graf wanted to go for winners too often. Navratilova never hesitated in following her serve to the net, but Graf too often relied on a hit-or-miss reply. When Navratilova returned serve she was undoubtedly surprised that Graf did not come in as often as she had against Shriver.

Navratilova's foot speed also seemed to intimidate Graf. The champion is perceptibly faster around the court than any other woman, and Graf may have subconsciously felt an uncommon urgency on her ground strokes. The rush produced heart-stopping passing shots but also errors.

Perhaps the best indication that Graf was never in control was that she reached only one break point on Navratilova's serve all day. She held off six set points in the first set, but Graf never had the edge-in points or in her head.

The chances are very good they will meet again in the U.S. Open final in September. If Graf can replace her metronomic pace with a few more intentional lulls, she may turn the result around. To Navratilova goes well deserved applause for giving her best when it counted most; for her very first tournament victory in 1987 after eight finals appearances.
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post #79 of 1017 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 2002, 06:58 AM
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Thanks for the articles. Love that prediction for the 1987 U.S. Open. How wrong they were.
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post #80 of 1017 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 2002, 02:09 PM
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Thanks Rollo!
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post #81 of 1017 (permalink) Old Jun 29th, 2002, 06:03 PM
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I'm glad they're appreciated I'll pull out any other moments/events/ years on request.
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post #82 of 1017 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2002, 08:26 PM
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Sally Jenkins was one of the best tennis writers. Here's a great piece on Martina in early 1990, the year she won the event for the 10th time!

Navratilova and Tennis: A Simply Perfect Match;No. 2 Drives for Another Shot at No. 1
The Washington Post Feb 23, 1990; Sally Jenkins;

Martina Navratilova doesn't play tennis so much as it plays her. Within the vividly marked confines of the court, she has explored her character, disguised nothing and invented herself too. She has no more secrets.

For 17 years tennis has been Navratilova's chief love and endeavor, and once it was her method of escape from oppression. Before countless opponents and stadium crowds she has vented her emotions and flaws. There is very little of her that hasn't been revealed in it, whether it be her defection from Czechoslovakia at the U.S. Open in 1975, or that she cries easily, or her personal life. It gave her a Porsche and those two chunks of diamond in her ears.

"It's an extension of my being," she said. "And where else am I going to make that kind of money?"

The diamonds are ever present, cut and gleaming, and at times they are joined by a smile of surpassing largesse, white and brilliant as a third gem. It is her most attractive aspect, and when it appears, the rest of her features-the hard but fragile cheekbones, hollow and deep-set eyes-seem to suddenly settle in their rightful places. It can be brought forth by children, dogs or jewelry, but it is evoked most frequently and rewardingly when she moves around the tennis court with a little bit of heaven in her.

At 33, Navratilova is rediscovering an abiding affection for the sport. Her knees and ankles sometimes ache, she doesn't see the ball as well as she did, and all these teenagers with vacant, serial-killer expressions are milling around the locker room. But that's all right, because something very interesting is happening. In the aftermath of a painful two-year period, she has confronted the fact thatshe is no longer No. 1 and chased by the world, but No. 2 and chasing, with time dwindling, 20-year-old Grand Slam winner Steffi Graf of West Germany.

And she is relishing it.

"It used to be, I just wanted to be No. 1," she said. "I didn't care how. Now it's a combination of the competition, and the ability to do with a ball what I want with it. I mean exactly. To put it on a dime, with the right speed and the right spin. I love that. And giving it everything, my heart, my soul, and my body too."

There are several events on the women's tennis tour that Navratilova will attempt this season to win for the 10th time. Last week she won her 10th trophy at the Virginia Slims of Chicago, this week she is pursuing her 10th Virginia Slims of Washington title at Smith Center. But the magic number for Navratilova is nine. That would be the number of Wimbledon singles titles she would possess were she to win one more. She shares the All-England record at eight with Helen Wills Moody.

Graf has beaten Navratilova in the last two Wimbledon finals, and she knows that to loft the trophy again, it is inevitable that she meet the West German. That's all right too, because Navratilova has come to enjoy the mere "process" of seeking, at her relatively advanced age in tennis, to get better.

"I'm cursed by her and blessed by her at the same time," Navratilova said. "Because of her, I'm a better player and I'm still in the game. But because of her, I haven't won my ninth Wimbledon. She's faster, bigger, taller, and she hits the ball harder. If I can beat her when she's at her prime, and when I'm past mine, that would be an accomplishment."

17 and Holding
It was a wrenching realization for Navratilova to come to, that after winning 17 Grand Slam singles titles, fourth all-time among women, and holding the longest winning streaks in tennis at 74 and 58 consecutive match victories, she was mortal. And it made her directionless and resentful and tired.

"It just wasn't easy," she said. "When I was winning all those grand slams, it was like `Oh, another one.' I'd give anything to win one now."

At a loss, Navratilova turned to Billie Jean King, who made the Wimbledon semifinals at 39. A year ago a wretched Navratilova called King and said, "Am I too old?" King replied, "If I had your body, I'd still be playing." The result of the conversation was that King agreed to assist Craig Kardon in coaching Navratilova. They began just before Wimbledon last year, and Navratilova credits King withreawakening her game.

Navratilova still muses about what happened to her game and psyche over the last two years. Just the other day she decided it may have dated to 1986, a season in which she eventually parted with longtime coach Mike Estep. As she made up her schedule for that season, she crossed off every tournament she could until she had the bare minimum of 12. She refused interviews and public
appearances. She had the flu six times, the symptoms of an ulcer, bad knees and bad ankles; she was anemic.

She did not get any happier in 1987, and in 1988 she unravelled totally, failing to reach the final of a Grand Slam event. Friend Judy Nelson told her, "Even when you're winning, you're unhappy."

Navratilova now suspects she was harboring a case of burnout. "I should have known what was going on then," she said. "My body was rebelling because I just didn't want to be out there. Billie Jean really made me take stock and decide what I wanted to do."

Accountability has been King's chief lesson to Navratilova: to admit what was wrong and fix it, rather than deny it.

"She's just accepted a lot of responsibility for herself, and she's a happier person for it," Kardon said. "In everything, not just on the
court. Basically she's learned that if you look for bad things, you'll find them."

King and Kardon also discovered that Navratilova, complete as she was, had some curious technical weaknesses in her game. They went unnoticed primarily because she is so strong that she could cover them up. But in the two years without a coach after Estep left, they grew to glaring proportions. She has had to painstakingly relearn some things, simple things like the split step as she approaches the net. If she can move more efficiently, she can make up for the step or two of speed she has lost through age.

She also turned to other previously ignored resources like tactics. King has taught her how to look for patterns, to mix up her game more, and convinced her to try to adapt to a match, as opposed to muscling through it. "I was real stubborn," she said.

Navratilova's on-court performance can be charted by two things: her mindset and her serve. If either is out of kilter she is fretful.Experienced opponents know her various demeanors all too well. Since Chris Evert retired after the U.S. Open they have kept close company on an exhibition tour, trading confidences and opening their friendship beyond the competitive. Evert has begun telling
Navratilova what she looked for, small subtle tendencies. That she frequently knew where shots were going, from certain expressions and body language.

"I always knew when I had you," she said.

"Thanks coach," Navratilova said wryly to Evert. "Why didn't you tell me before?"

Navratilova never was more readable than in the U.S. Open final last year, when for 15 games she routed Graf. Ahead by a service break and just two games from victory, she could not win them. Her serve was broken by Graf in the 16th game, when she double faulted. King has made Navratilova watch the tape of that match over and over again. Navratilova writhes in her chair as she watches,
with the sure knowledge that she should have won it. "It makes her crazy," Nelson said. King's intention is to make Navratilova
confront what went wrong; she retreated and gave it away.
"I pulled back," Navratilova said. "And it cost me the match."

That was especially difficult to pick up from. One facet that Navratilova never had to rely on much before, but does now, is fortitude.A perusal of her victories shows that many of them came with ease-not much was required of her when her athleticism was so surpassing. It is a quality she certainly possesses, having dealt with some lonely years after her defection, and some unpleasantly
public revelations about her personal life, but she never has particularly displayed it on court.

"I knew I had a lot more than people gave me credit for," she said. "But I also know that for a long time I was depending on my athletic ability too much."

A certain perspective helps. She has allowed herself to return to her first love, skiing, with a new ranch in Aspen, Colo. She is an insatiable reader, who combs the newspapers for news of the changes in Eastern Europe, which makes her "ecstatic." She plans a trip there in May, her first since she played in the Federation Cup in 1986, which at the time was her first since she left in '75. She enjoys playing the role of the grand dame on tour, and the deeper appreciation she is beginning to receive from audiences.

There also is the lingering sense in Navratilova that she pleases the game as much as it pleases her. She loves the smooth fluidity of her play, the response of a crowd to her acrobatics. "When they go `Woooo,' " she said. "I know sometimes when I twist and hit a shot, it can look like ballet." She is endlessly intrigued by the texture and feel of striking a ball.

"That little yellow tennis ball," she said. "I still haven't hit it perfectly yet."
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post #83 of 1017 (permalink) Old Jul 16th, 2002, 03:00 AM
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Thanks for posting the article; it definitely is a nice one. Sally is great...

She got that watershed year mixed up though. It was 1987, and not 1986, when she played just 12 tournaments.

Again, thanks!
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post #84 of 1017 (permalink) Old Jul 17th, 2002, 12:13 PM
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Thanks for clearing the year up Zummi. Sounds like Sally mixed Martina's parting with Estep(which i'm guessing happened in 86) with the problems Navratilova had in 87. Martina's right about the 89 final too. She was up something like 4-2 and serving with the crowd behind her, dumped a few serves, and Graf was back in it.

If I have time I'll add some more. I'd like to get match reports all 80 or so Navratilova-Evert matches.
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post #85 of 1017 (permalink) Old Jul 18th, 2002, 01:44 AM
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Martina parted with Mike after the 1986 season. I think the relationship was getting stagnant. Mike worked with a couple of other players including Sylvia Hanika and I think, Carling Bassett too... Not too sure...

Martina went through about 3 different coaches that year - Randy Crawford, Virginia Wade and Renee Richards. She did have her share of injuries, but her shortened season hurt her. Playing just 5 tournaments through Roland Garros - what sort of schedule was that? That ankle injury was costly. Cost her a spot on the Olympic team in 1988.
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post #86 of 1017 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2002, 01:48 AM
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Mike has also worked with Hana in 1989, after she was out of the tour during 6 months in 1988
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post #87 of 1017 (permalink) Old Dec 21st, 2002, 07:02 AM
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Aussie Open-1984

Last edited by Rollo; Dec 21st, 2002 at 11:22 PM.
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post #88 of 1017 (permalink) Old Dec 21st, 2002, 07:58 AM
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Thanks for the photo.

It is very likely from 1984 or maybe early 1985. She is not wearing glasses in that photo (so it had be before Dallas 1985) and the outfit is different from line she started wearing in 1986.

I usually think of Martina's cowgirl look as the ones from August 1987 till about late 1990 when she had the mullet haircut and kept her hair longer and wore the headband. Socially, she used to dress up in these wild Western glamor outfits, with sequins, frills and all.
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post #89 of 1017 (permalink) Old Dec 21st, 2002, 08:12 AM
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LOL at the "Mullet" look. Mid to late 80s hair was something else. Evert looked like she ran it through a blender after 83!

Maybe we can date that photo more precisely. You've established it was pre-1985. It looks like the Aussie Open at Kooyong (the tiers and blue awning are clues), which means 83 or 84.

What I'd really like are more Martina pics from 1981-2. 1981 will always be a vintage year IMO.
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post #90 of 1017 (permalink) Old Dec 21st, 2002, 08:13 AM
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At wimbledon- 87

Wimbledon 94

Last edited by Rollo; Dec 21st, 2002 at 11:20 PM.
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