Mar 10th, 2002, 07:16 PM
Natasha Zvereva used to play for the Soviet Union, now for Belarus. She was a fantastic singles hope, but after getting routed 6-0 6-0 in the RG final by Steffi Graf never lived up to her potential. She won loads of doubles slams, mostly with Gigi Fernandez, but also with other players. She has a fantastic game to watch - she can play any shot you can think of and several that you can't - full of variety and fun. Her personality, though, is possibly what makes her so very popular with tennis fans. She was the coolest player ever. Pigtails and shades. The best dancer the WTA tour has ever seen. :cool:
I'm in a hurry, so won't enlarge this panagyric any more.
<----------- is a pic of her!
Also see the "natasha zvereva appreciation society" thread in the Blast from the Past forum.
Mar 10th, 2002, 07:40 PM
Ooooh, got it to work. Interesting comments about Hantchukova. Also about Natasha's singles chances. I suspect that when she says she probably won't play singles, she means that if the return to doubles goes well she might consider it but doesn't want to admit to it yet. I can't believe that she searched for a partner for 6 months! How on earth does someone with her doubles record manage not do find someone more quickly than that?
March 8, 2002
PACIFIC LIFE OPEN
Indian Wells, California
An interview with:
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA and NATASHA ZVEREVA
MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Natasha, what have you been up to this last period of time?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I've been doing nothing for almost two years. It's unbelievable. It's so enjoyable. I guess I just enjoy
my life. I'll see how things are going on the tour. I was really curious. I couldn't get any gossip, so I had to see for myself.
Q. Were you spending most of your time in Newport or Minsk?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Germany. I live most of the time in Germany.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: How is your German? Nicht so gut?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: No.
Q. Natasha, there was a ball, it was wide and long. Did you touch that ball?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No. He didn't see it. He was -- the only people that needed to see it didn't know the ball was
two feet out. I've seen everything before, but I haven't seen that. They took it. We won the next point, we got to deuce, but
it was a little too late.
Q. Would you give that ball to somebody if you see playing a match?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: When it's that far out, I can't imagine taking it. That's not why we lost the match, but obviously
that was one point.
NATASHA ZVEREVA: It would have been deuce and it could have been anybody's really.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think what they need to do is do away with the let serve. That was pretty obvious tonight.
They missed -- they called like two and they missed about six let serves.
The problem is you stop playing. You think they're going to call it, and they don't. The game would be better without the
let serve. Team Tennis, you play the lets. The game flows much better. One day it's going to be abolished, I just don't
know when. Probably won't see the day. It will be abolished because it's a thing of the past. Haven't quite kept up with it.
I really realized doing TV on the men's side at Wimbledon, Ivanisevic is playing, bounce, bounce, bounce, ace. Bounce,
bounce, bounce, let. Bounce, bounce, bounce, miss. Bounce, bounce, bounce, let. Bounce, bounce, bounce, second
serve, ace. You sit there for five minutes, you haven't seen one thing.
The let makes it that much slower. It would just really speed up the game and make it better overall.
Q. You wouldn't mind being aced by one that just drops over?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No. You know, Team Tennis, I've played at least a hundred sets in Team Tennis, and I've
seen maybe ten of those. It's not an issue really. Once in a while the server gets a cheap ace or once in a while the ball
pops up and you put it away. If it happens once a set, it's too much.
Most of the lets, it doesn't even change the flight of the ball really, so it doesn't really affect play. The worse thing is when
you ace somebody, just a little bit of a let, do it over again, so...
That's another story.
Q. Tonight your two opponents' combined ages were less than yours. Did you feel strong playing them?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, I felt pretty good. You know, this was our first match together ever. Natasha has been
out for two years. I haven't played a match since October. Obviously, they're a little bit sharper.
But we just really got out-served. They served so well, that was the biggest problem. Once we got the ball in play, we
were okay. We couldn't get the ball okay. Particularly that second set, they served extremely well, both of them. They
were serving 102, 103 miles an hour. In doubles, that's unusual.
We'll get better. I'm excited about playing with Natasha. It's really fun.
Q. Had you been able to practice before together?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Just two days ago. Yesterday we hit for 20 minutes and stopped because it was blowing so
hard. There was no point in hitting. We've had two practices together.
I think we'll probably hang around here. It will get better and better as we keep playing. I'm not worried at all. This is just
Q. What other tournaments are you going to be playing?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Actually, we haven't talked about it. We just figured this one and Miami, then see what
happens. We need to figure out our schedules. I'm ready to play the whole year.
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I'll see how my body feels, as well. You can practice all you want, but until you play in a match or
get a few under your belt, you don't know.
Q. How do you feel right now?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I'm surprised. I surprised myself. I'm holding up pretty well, yeah. Well, at least till tonight.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: When you get older, it stinks. It's harder.
Q. What did it actually feel like out there, Natasha?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Really weird. The whole week has been real weird.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Just being back.
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Yeah, just being back. It's been so long. It will take me a couple weeks to get into it.
Q. Did it feel like an eternity since you last played?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Yes and no. Tennis-wise, yes. But just time flies so fast. I mean, this week I've seen so many new
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: "Who is that?" "Who is that?"
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Yeah. Weird.
Q. Martina, do you see a difference in doubles between the time that you first retired and now?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, huge. Not tonight. I mean, they served big, but they were serving and volleying on both
serves. Most matches I played last year, most points, the girls were staying back, even on first serves. I mean, there
was one match I played, I think they served and volleyed twice the whole match.
Surfaces are slower. Everybody's serving bigger. They're not volleying as well. These girls served and volleyed very well.
Most of them just stay back. It's a completely different ballgame, yeah, quite different. Big bangers.
Q. You two combined have a 494 titles.
Q. I have to ask .
Q. Somebody said 490 combined everything, singles, doubles, yours and hers.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yes.
Q. I have to ask you this. Might be funny. I know that you want to put out a good show. Were you a little bit nervous
getting out, even though all those titles, everything, just to see? Is that going to be a good show?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I'm not worried about putting on a good show. I figure if I play well, I put on a good show. I think
people had a good time tonight. I think they wanted to see us win, but that didn't happen.
I think it was worse for Natasha, having been away for two years. I know when I played my first match in Madrid after
having been away for six years, my knees were knocking. I was so nervous.
But today I was fine. I was just more nervous about playing with Natasha since we never played together.
NATASHA ZVEREVA: To me it's a great sign to get nervous, because it means you feel something. If you go out, you
don't feel anything, it's like (indicating).
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Why bother?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Lifeless.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You feel excited about playing.
NATASHA ZVEREVA: I got nervous when I was first driving here, parking. I was so nervous.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Parallel parking?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: No, I drove here. I walked out of the car, saw all the players. My mouth was just dried out. I had for
minutes a permanent smile on my face.
Q. Natasha, how did you join forces?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Very spontaneous. I mean, Linda from the WTA, I received an e-mail from her, saying Martina was
looking for somebody. I was looking for a good six months already.
Q. So you were healthy for six months?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Somewhat healthy. I was healthy before US Open, was getting ready, and couldn't really find
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I didn't know. I heard only a couple weeks ago. I heard one day that Natasha was looking. "Oh,
I'll call her tomorrow." She called me that day.
Q. Were you scheduled to play with somebody else?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I was planning on playing with Hantuchova. Things got sort of missed up. We parted on
mutual terms. She's playing with Arantxa, I'm playing with Natasha, everybody is happy.
Q. You're her WTA mentor?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yes.
Q. How involved are you in that program?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: She's not really asked me a whole lot yet. I don't know what she's really waiting for. I talked to
her a couple times. It's not been as involved as I would like it. She's got a coach that seems to know everything, so she's
not really asked me. But I'm sure something will come up where she will seek me out.
Q. A couple of times during the match, the cell phones went off. When you first started, they didn't have that.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: That was happening already, in Europe, Italy particularly. Happened all the time. There it was
such a status symbol, apparently people had phones that just rang. They weren't real phones, they just made noises, so
it made it look like they had phones.
You heard that, right?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Too funny.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think in Europe now, people are a little more alert. Like restaurants, you don't ever hear a cell
phone going out. But here, I don't think we're cell phone savvy quite yet. People forget. I've forgotten it in a movie, had it
on vibrate. Nearly jump out of my seat when the thing goes off. I learned to turn mine off.
A couple times, players' phones have gone off. Yelling and screaming. It's in their bag.
Q. Are you going to play singles, Natasha?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Not for these two tournaments. I don't think so. I haven't thought about it. Probably not. Probably
Q. Probably not this year?
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Yeah.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Or ever.
NATASHA ZVEREVA: Or ever, no. But you never know. I can't say no. I can't say yes. I'm just going to leave it at that.
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: You don't know.
Q. Is icing your knee preventive?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It hurts to walk, but not to play. The quad is tight, it's pulling on the kneecap. That's all it is. It's
nothing to worry about. I'm just taking care of it.
But it didn't bother me at all playing. It only started hurting me after the shower. But it's fine.
Q. Can I ask you, not long ago I read about you teaming up with 40 other great athletes for the Laureus Sport for Good
Foundation. Can you comment on that?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: What about it? It's a great organization. They're helping promote sport worldwide as a way of
helping, you know, in countries where the availability is not there, both for girls and boys, which is great. They're all over
in Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, just trying to help promote sport as a healthy lifestyle, obviously, and enabling a
lot of children the opportunity, giving them the opportunity.
It's an amazing collection of athletes from all over the world. I mean, Pele, Becker, Nadia Comenici, a bunch of women,
and male athletes.
It's a treat to go there. I gave Jennifer Capriati her award last year, she was the comeback athlete of the year. In
Monte-Carlo are the awards. They have big sponsorship, Deutschebank, Mercedes. It's just a way to promote sports.
Q. Last year when you presented her with the award in Monaco, what was that like, what was that whole atmosphere?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Again, it's such a great collection of athletes, you're just in awe of being there. I had my hat
signed by a whole bunch of them. We were taking pictures on the podium, I was going around to everybody. It's a nice
group of people.
Jennifer deserved it. I was thrilled to be able to give it to her. You will hear about it more and more. The money's behind it,
the backing is there, and they are doing it for all the right reasons. This is not just an excuse for getting together and
having a party. This is really doing something in a long-term situation for the betterment of sports.
It was very nice to be there, be a part of it. Really truly an honor asked to be one of the founding members.
Q. What was the approach? How did you get involved?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, they called me up. I don't know, this is about five years ago. They called to see if I would
be interested in being part of this amazing group. Of course. All the other athletes they asked, I was like, "Okay."
Q. I know you used to live here in this area. Can you reminisce about what it was like when you lived out here and also
playing in the tournaments the two times prior?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It was 25 years ago, '75 to '80. I didn't live here full-time, but I had a place in Rancho Mirage on
the golf course. Actually, it was sand back then. Now there's a second golf course. There was a whole bunch more sand
Yesterday I was quite thankful there were so many golf courses because we wouldn't have been able to see anything at
all with all the sand flying in the air. It's gotten a little less dry, a lot more crowded.
111, one strip mall after another. It's a little too manicured for me. Playing golf here is amazing, such a great climate.
Q. Were you able to bring the dog with you today?
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I have four dogs with me here. They're in the hotel keeping each other company. I'm sure I'll
bring her tomorrow.
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