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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 05:36 AM   #1
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Seles and Navratilova : A Tale of Two Women

(excerpts from a Sports Illustrated article)
November 30, 1992

A Tale Of Two Women
Sally Jenkins

The applause in Madison Square Garden was a striking tribute to two careers headed in different directions. Martina Navratilova, at the age of 36, basked in the crowd's standing ovation, while next to her stood impatient Monica Seles, half that age, a fast-forward champion. Navratilova is the greatest women's player in history, but nobody else has won as many titles as Seles has at such an early age.

On Sunday she defeated Navratilova in their best-of-five-set title match at the season-ending Virginia Slims Championships 7-5, 6-3, 6-1, a win so quick and convincing that it caused Navratilova, for whom just reaching the final was a long, slow pull, to announce that next year will probably be her last as a singles player. The ovation Navratilova received was perhaps the longest and warmest of her 18-year career. "I know there arc not many more of these moments," she said tearfully, "and that's a little hard on the heart."

Countless ovations lie ahead for Seles, who has now won the Slims three years running. Her emphatic yearlong defense of her No. 1 ranking culminated in a scintillating final-round performance at the Garden, for which she received a benediction from Navratilova, the alltime leader in singles titles, men's or women's, with 161. "At her best, she's as good as anybody," said Navratilova.

Consider: Seles lost only five matches in 1992 and broke the record for prize money earned in a single year by a tennis player, with $2.6 million, including the $250,000 she won on Sunday and another $500,000 she took home for winning the Kraft Tour bonus pool. Since turning pro at 15 in 1989, Seles has amassed seven Grand Slam crowns and six of the last eight. In the last two years she reached the finals of 30 of the 31 tournaments she entered, winning 20 of them.

A distant second to Seles in 1992 was her chief rival, Steffi Graf, who prevailed at Wimbledon, the only Grand Slam event Seles didn't win. Going into the Slims championships, Graf had won four straight tournaments, but her year ended in a sudden puff of smoke when she fell 7-6, 6-4 to 18th-ranked Lori McNeil in the first round. Not since 1985 had Graf lost before the quarterfinals in a tournament.

Navratilova was alternately loath and hasty to call next year her last, and she reserved the right to change her mind. Clearly, though, the end is nearing. Her broadening pursuits are pulling her away from tennis. "There are more-interesting things to talk about," she says.

There are also more-fun things to do. The week before the Slims, she went to a New York Ranger game at the Garden. Afterward she skidded on the ice in cowboy boots, borrowed a stick and took some slapshots at the goal. She even traded Ranger coach Roger Neilson a racket for a pair of hockey skates.

An avowed liberal, she says some form of public advocacy will be her next calling. "I'm for fairness and equality, and I'm against prejudice," she says. "So I guess that makes me a radical liberal to some."

Navratilova the tennis player has always been a finely tuned piece of machinery, and too often lately her mind has wandered or her body has complained. She employs a constant rotation of masseuses and chiropractors to cure small pains. "It's one thing or the other," she says. "When both the mind and the body go, then there will be no hope."

Navratilova can't close the door on opponents the way she once did. Witness Sunday's match. She served for the first set and made a diving forehand volley to take a 3-1 lead in the second, but Seles swept the next eight games. "She just hit it harder," said Navratilova incredulously.

The titles have slowed to a trickle. Navratilova finished the year by reaching four straight finals but won only one of them. Still, she plans a full schedule for next year and gets testy when others imply that this year may have been her last. "I'll be there," she says. "If you don't see me, it will be because you didn't show up."
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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 09:27 AM   #2
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Re: Seles and Navratilova : A Tale of Two Women

Quote:
Originally Posted by EvertNavratilova View Post
(excerpts from a Sports Illustrated article)
November 30, 1992

A Tale Of Two Women
Sally Jenkins

The applause in Madison Square Garden was a striking tribute to two careers headed in different directions. Martina Navratilova, at the age of 36, basked in the crowd's standing ovation, while next to her stood impatient Monica Seles, half that age, a fast-forward champion. Navratilova is the greatest women's player in history, but nobody else has won as many titles as Seles has at such an early age.

On Sunday she defeated Navratilova in their best-of-five-set title match at the season-ending Virginia Slims Championships 7-5, 6-3, 6-1, a win so quick and convincing that it caused Navratilova, for whom just reaching the final was a long, slow pull, to announce that next year will probably be her last as a singles player. The ovation Navratilova received was perhaps the longest and warmest of her 18-year career. "I know there arc not many more of these moments," she said tearfully, "and that's a little hard on the heart."

Countless ovations lie ahead for Seles, who has now won the Slims three years running. Her emphatic yearlong defense of her No. 1 ranking culminated in a scintillating final-round performance at the Garden, for which she received a benediction from Navratilova, the alltime leader in singles titles, men's or women's, with 161. "At her best, she's as good as anybody," said Navratilova.

Consider: Seles lost only five matches in 1992 and broke the record for prize money earned in a single year by a tennis player, with $2.6 million, including the $250,000 she won on Sunday and another $500,000 she took home for winning the Kraft Tour bonus pool. Since turning pro at 15 in 1989, Seles has amassed seven Grand Slam crowns and six of the last eight. In the last two years she reached the finals of 30 of the 31 tournaments she entered, winning 20 of them.

A distant second to Seles in 1992 was her chief rival, Steffi Graf, who prevailed at Wimbledon, the only Grand Slam event Seles didn't win. Going into the Slims championships, Graf had won four straight tournaments, but her year ended in a sudden puff of smoke when she fell 7-6, 6-4 to 18th-ranked Lori McNeil in the first round. Not since 1985 had Graf lost before the quarterfinals in a tournament.

Navratilova was alternately loath and hasty to call next year her last, and she reserved the right to change her mind. Clearly, though, the end is nearing. Her broadening pursuits are pulling her away from tennis. "There are more-interesting things to talk about," she says.

There are also more-fun things to do. The week before the Slims, she went to a New York Ranger game at the Garden. Afterward she skidded on the ice in cowboy boots, borrowed a stick and took some slapshots at the goal. She even traded Ranger coach Roger Neilson a racket for a pair of hockey skates.

An avowed liberal, she says some form of public advocacy will be her next calling. "I'm for fairness and equality, and I'm against prejudice," she says. "So I guess that makes me a radical liberal to some."

Navratilova the tennis player has always been a finely tuned piece of machinery, and too often lately her mind has wandered or her body has complained. She employs a constant rotation of masseuses and chiropractors to cure small pains. "It's one thing or the other," she says. "When both the mind and the body go, then there will be no hope."

Navratilova can't close the door on opponents the way she once did. Witness Sunday's match. She served for the first set and made a diving forehand volley to take a 3-1 lead in the second, but Seles swept the next eight games. "She just hit it harder," said Navratilova incredulously.

The titles have slowed to a trickle. Navratilova finished the year by reaching four straight finals but won only one of them. Still, she plans a full schedule for next year and gets testy when others imply that this year may have been her last. "I'll be there," she says. "If you don't see me, it will be because you didn't show up."
That was a really interesting article thanks for taking the time to post. It really does show what a formidable and brilliant player Seles was at that time. Unbeatable.
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Old Jul 18th, 2009, 08:01 AM   #3
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Re: Seles and Navratilova : A Tale of Two Women

Thanks for posting this article. Monica was simply amazing indoors back in the day. From her breakthrough tournament at the Lipton in 1990 till her stabbing in Hamburg three years later, she only lost 3 matches indoors - one to Amy Frazier in Tokyo in 1990 and two to Martina (Oakland 1991 and Paris 1993). She came close to winning this event a fourth time in 2000 against Hingis, but her lack of fitness probably cost her the match in the end.

Martina also had 2 very good fall indoor seasons in 1991 and 1992. Indoor carpet was her favorite and most effective surface after all. Time magazine did a nice piece on her that year after the Virginia Slims Championships, calling her "The Lioness in Winter," a sobriquet I thought was very appropriate. Here is the article:

Quote:
The Lioness in Winter

By WILLIAM A. HENRY III
Time magazine
Monday, Nov. 30, 1992

When she half-strode, half-skipped into Madison Square Garden to tumultuous applause last week, Martina Navratilova broke records. But she has lasted so long that she does that every time she plays -- win or lose. When her opponents had controversial calls go against them in the opening singles and doubles matches that she played just an hour apart, Navratilova set aside competitive advantage for queenly benevolence and conceded the (not so crucial) points. When she adjourned to the pressroom after winning both matches, she spoke briefly and blandly of her play, then waded more eagerly into political controversy over an antigay amendment to the Colorado constitution that she is suing to have overturned, and vowed to quit her beloved Aspen home if she fails.

If one hadn't seen her running around the court, contorting into improbable positions to hit impossible angles, flinging herself into the air to intercept balls streaking in at 100 m.p.h., exulting at every reassurance that her athleticism was intact -- after 36 years, more than 2,000 career matches and double knee reconstruction -- one might have thought the grande dame of tennis was making a stately segue into the next phase of a stubbornly public life. But four years after she started publicly flirting with the idea, the most successful woman in the history of professional sports is not quite ready to retire.

She winces at talk about changes in her body as she keeps trying -- mostly successfully -- to surpass players half her age. Tennis is a game of intimidation, and Navratilova's renown used to have opponents beaten before a ball was struck. Now, though she prides herself on candor, she struggles not to sound vulnerable. "Am I a little slower? Maybe. But Billie Jean King thinks I'm hitting the ball as well as ever, and I definitely have more shots than I did eight years ago. If I'd had a forehand down the line back then, I would have won a few more French Opens, at least." She blends tinkering with her game with a methodical shortening of her schedule, playing a little less each year. She has bypassed the French Open, with its two weeks of endless running on clay, since 1988, and the Australian Open, in Down Under swelter that can reach 140 degreesF on court, since 1989. She takes a three-month spring break, plays no-pressure exhibitions in midsummer and enters a minimum number of tournaments to meet the rules. Next year, when many people expected that she would emphasize doubles, at which she is the best ever, she will focus on singles instead. "Doubles," she says, "is something I can come back to when I'm older."

She still evokes awe. Manuela Maleeva-Fragniere, who beat Navratilova twice in 1990 but was steamrollered at the Garden last week, says, "I really don't think she's getting any less good. There are days when she plays the best tennis she has ever played. She just has more ups and downs." When asked about her highlights of 1992, Navratilova cites two victories and, unthinkable a few years ago, a defeat by the current No. 1, Monica Seles, at Wimbledon. "I looked at the videotape, and it was much closer than I thought," she says with a smile. A couple of years ago, the sense of might-have-been would have nagged at her for months.

Her standing as the all-time greatest in her sport seems beyond challenge. She has played more singles matches, and won more, than any other tennis athlete, male or female; she has captured more titles and earned more prize < money -- $18.3 million and climbing. If excellence is measured by a single shining season, no one is likely ever to top her 1983, when she went 86-1 and took 16 titles. Or her 1984, when she ended a 55-match win streak with a single loss, then captured her next 74. If the measure is longevity, she has won at least one title a year for 20 straight years and ranked in the top five for the past 18.

"I don't think about history much," Navratilova claims in public, "or I probably wouldn't play anymore." In private, friends say, she is acutely aware of her place in history, as a player and as a symbol. She transformed sports for women by taking on the training discipline of men -- lifting weights, running sprints, following a rigid carbohydrate-loaded diet. She emphasized mental preparation as much as physical, supplanting the customary touring father or coach with Team Navratilova, a floating coterie of trainers, playing partners and amateur headshrinkers -- although they could not always avert the abrupt collapses of concentration that former player and now commentator Mary Carillo calls "Martina meltdowns."

Perhaps her most lasting legacy is having lived as an open homosexual while competing. Other gay superstars duck questions, solicit a conspiracy of silence, make marriages of convenience. Navratilova has told the blunt truth to everyone, from biographers to Barbara Walters -- not for sensation but to promote understanding and advance causes like the Colorado suit. "People in this country don't know what to think about gays," she says. "I just hope we turn the energy away from prejudice to something positive. I'll never run for office -- I'm too honest for that -- but I hope my career and name mean that I can be involved on some level, making a difference." Those sound like the words of a woman in transition. But out on the court last week, the arms were rippling, the legs were limber, and the unblinking eyes were still focused on the prize. Martina Navratilova is the lioness in winter.
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Old Jul 18th, 2009, 02:27 PM   #4
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Re: Seles and Navratilova : A Tale of Two Women

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Thanks for posting this article. Monica was simply amazing indoors back in the day. From her breakthrough tournament at the Lipton in 1990 till her stabbing in Hamburg three years later, she only lost 3 matches indoors - one to Amy Frazier in Tokyo in 1990 and two to Martina (Oakland 1991 and Paris 1993). She came close to winning this event a fourth time in 2000 against Hingis, but her lack of fitness probably cost her the match in the end.

Martina also had 2 very good fall indoor seasons in 1991 and 1992. Indoor carpet was her favorite and most effective surface after all. Time magazine did a nice piece on her that year after the Virginia Slims Championships, calling her "The Lioness in Winter," a sobriquet I thought was very appropriate. Here is the article:
That was a fantastic article and so many thanks for posting- The lioness in winter sounds so great. Katharine Hepburn was her favourite actress so that makes the title even more appropriate. Navratilova is a remarkable woman- it is so easy to forget how fundamental she has been to the advancement of womens tennis and gay rights. She is someone who I will always admire and respect.
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Old Jul 18th, 2009, 08:23 PM   #5
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Re: Seles and Navratilova : A Tale of Two Women

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That was a fantastic article and so many thanks for posting- The lioness in winter sounds so great. Katharine Hepburn was her favourite actress so that makes the title even more appropriate. Navratilova is a remarkable woman- it is so easy to forget how fundamental she has been to the advancement of womens tennis and gay rights. She is someone who I will always admire and respect.
I've heard the "lioness in winter" reference attributed to Ted Tinling. It was in the context of the debate over the #1 ranking in 1987. I wonder if that Tinling quote inspired the title of this article.
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"A couple of years ago, we nicknamed Steffi Graf's forehand 'Jaws'. And that music would go perfectly when she starts running in to the net, swarming on that little ball." (JoAnne Russell, during the 1988 Wimbledon final between Graf and Navratilova)
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Old Jul 19th, 2009, 05:00 AM   #6
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Re: Seles and Navratilova : A Tale of Two Women

That's right. Ted Tinling called her that in 1987 as she had beaten Steffi at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and heading into the Slims Championships, she had won both Filderstadt and Chicago and looked to be in good form for the final big one. But she was a bundle of nerves and crashed out to Sabatini in the quarterfinals. The previous night was one of the rare times Martina & Pam had struggled against Gabriela & Steffi in their doubles semifinal (finally rallying to win 3-6 7-6 6-1) and this match gave Gaby the confidence for the singles the following day.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 05:17 PM   #7
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Re: Seles and Navratilova : A Tale of Two Women

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That's right. Ted Tinling called her that in 1987 as she had beaten Steffi at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and heading into the Slims Championships, she had won both Filderstadt and Chicago and looked to be in good form for the final big one. But she was a bundle of nerves and crashed out to Sabatini in the quarterfinals. The previous night was one of the rare times Martina & Pam had struggled against Gabriela & Steffi in their doubles semifinal (finally rallying to win 3-6 7-6 6-1) and this match gave Gaby the confidence for the singles the following day.
Both Seles and Navratilova are great.-
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 09:25 PM   #8
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Re: Seles and Navratilova : A Tale of Two Women

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The previous night was one of the rare times Martina & Pam had struggled against Gabriela & Steffi in their doubles semifinal (finally rallying to win 3-6 7-6 6-1) and this match gave Gaby the confidence for the singles the following day.
Sheesh, how the hell did that match get that close? I mean, Gaby and Steffi were pretty much Martina and Pam's bitches when it came to doubles, and most of their matches were like 6-1 6-2 wins for MN and PHS. Was this the match that Shriver later commented on saying something like, "Lose a match to Graf/Sabatini? Over my dead body!"?
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"A couple of years ago, we nicknamed Steffi Graf's forehand 'Jaws'. And that music would go perfectly when she starts running in to the net, swarming on that little ball." (JoAnne Russell, during the 1988 Wimbledon final between Graf and Navratilova)
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Old Jul 21st, 2009, 05:44 AM   #9
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Sheesh, how the hell did that match get that close? I mean, Gaby and Steffi were pretty much Martina and Pam's bitches when it came to doubles, and most of their matches were like 6-1 6-2 wins for MN and PHS. Was this the match that Shriver later commented on saying something like, "Lose a match to Graf/Sabatini? Over my dead body!"?
Yes, that's the match where she said that! It was the only time Steffi & Gabriela took a set off Martina & Pam in 6 meetings.

Overall, Steffi actually won her first ever doubles match against Martina, the same tournament where she got the first singles win - Berlin 1986. Along with Sukova, they defeated Martina & Andrea Temesvari in straight sets. That would be the only match Martina lost to Steffi in doubles; she won their next 8 meetings, culminating in Martina's & Hana's win over Steffi & Gabriela in the 1989 U.S. Open semifinal - which incidentally was the first time Hana had beaten Steffi in doubles.
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Old Jul 21st, 2009, 12:04 PM   #10
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Sheesh, how the hell did that match get that close? I mean, Gaby and Steffi were pretty much Martina and Pam's bitches when it came to doubles, and most of their matches were like 6-1 6-2 wins for MN and PHS. Was this the match that Shriver later commented on saying something like, "Lose a match to Graf/Sabatini? Over my dead body!"?
Mind you Graf and Sabatini were no slouches as a doubles team I feel. That is funny Shriver saying that- she was good with the quotes and I found her humour funny if at times a bit too insulting to other players. Toronto v Tracy Austin in 81 comes readily to mind. But like you on a fast indoor court I would not expect the match to be that close between them.
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Old Jul 21st, 2009, 12:08 PM   #11
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Yes, that's the match where she said that! It was the only time Steffi & Gabriela took a set off Martina & Pam in 6 meetings.

Overall, Steffi actually won her first ever doubles match against Martina, the same tournament where she got the first singles win - Berlin 1986. Along with Sukova, they defeated Martina & Andrea Temesvari in straight sets. That would be the only match Martina lost to Steffi in doubles; she won their next 8 meetings, culminating in Martina's & Hana's win over Steffi & Gabriela in the 1989 U.S. Open semifinal - which incidentally was the first time Hana had beaten Steffi in doubles.
Interesting that Graf had beaten Navratilova on their first encounter in doubles. Mind you look at who she had with her- the great Sukova. Mandlikova had loads of problems with Graf didnt she? I guess Hana was at the end of her better days when Graf came along and that was reflected in their career head to heads. I thought it was great when Navratilova and Mandlikova buried their differences and won that Open. Must have been a proud moment for them both.
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Old Jul 21st, 2009, 08:47 PM   #12
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Mind you Graf and Sabatini were no slouches as a doubles team I feel. That is funny Shriver saying that- she was good with the quotes and I found her humour funny if at times a bit too insulting to other players. Toronto v Tracy Austin in 81 comes readily to mind. But like you on a fast indoor court I would not expect the match to be that close between them.
Graf and Sabatini were, I thought, a serviceable team that got by solely on the singles prowess of its players. They could always be expected to beat the lower ranked teams and then get thrashed by a semi-decent team. They lost two consecutive French finals, first to Navratilova/Temesvari and then to Navratilova/Shriver. The scores were something like 6-1 6-1 and 6-1 6-2 (or vice versa). Considering how many good women's doubles teams there used to be in the 80s, I'd have to say that their 1988 Wimbledon and Lipton titles were a bit of a fluke.

The thing that has left me scratching my head, though, is how on earth they managed to beat Sukova and Novotna twice in 1989, first 6-1 6-2 in the French semis and then again en route to the US Open semis. Sukova/Novotna must have been having some serious issues that year! Someone on the Sabatini thread (I think) described their strategy as "You play the balls on your side of the court, I'll play the ones on mine, and anything down the middle we just let go". Ok, so they weren't that bad, but the really good teams made Graf/Sabatini look foolish.
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Best left-right combination by a German (and that includes Max Schmeling): Steffi Graf. All she did in 1987 was knock Navratilova out of #1 and try to knock Evert out of the sport. (Mike Lupica in "The Best and Worst of Tennis in 1987", World Tennis)

"A couple of years ago, we nicknamed Steffi Graf's forehand 'Jaws'. And that music would go perfectly when she starts running in to the net, swarming on that little ball." (JoAnne Russell, during the 1988 Wimbledon final between Graf and Navratilova)
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 05:29 AM   #13
Zummi
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Re: Seles and Navratilova : A Tale of Two Women

Graf and Sabatini were not well-suited for each other, IMO. They were a top 5 team easily, but to compete with Martina & Pam, they needed better partners. Gabriela was quite successful the few times she played with Zina and Helena; Steffi could have done better with Lori, Helena or even Liz Smylie. At any rate, only Martina & Pam could beat them on a consistent basis. I'm pretty sure Graf/Sabatini had victories over all the other top doubles teams of that time.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 11:45 AM   #14
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Re: Seles and Navratilova : A Tale of Two Women

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Originally Posted by samn View Post
Graf and Sabatini were, I thought, a serviceable team that got by solely on the singles prowess of its players. They could always be expected to beat the lower ranked teams and then get thrashed by a semi-decent team. They lost two consecutive French finals, first to Navratilova/Temesvari and then to Navratilova/Shriver. The scores were something like 6-1 6-1 and 6-1 6-2 (or vice versa). Considering how many good women's doubles teams there used to be in the 80s, I'd have to say that their 1988 Wimbledon and Lipton titles were a bit of a fluke.

The thing that has left me scratching my head, though, is how on earth they managed to beat Sukova and Novotna twice in 1989, first 6-1 6-2 in the French semis and then again en route to the US Open semis. Sukova/Novotna must have been having some serious issues that year! Someone on the Sabatini thread (I think) described their strategy as "You play the balls on your side of the court, I'll play the ones on mine, and anything down the middle we just let go". Ok, so they weren't that bad, but the really good teams made Graf/Sabatini look foolish.
I am with you on that one.It is really hard to believe that Sukova and Novotna lost like that to Graf and Sabatini. At the French maybe but I am shocked re the US Open.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2009, 11:48 AM   #15
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Re: Seles and Navratilova : A Tale of Two Women

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Originally Posted by Zummi View Post
Graf and Sabatini were not well-suited for each other, IMO. They were a top 5 team easily, but to compete with Martina & Pam, they needed better partners. Gabriela was quite successful the few times she played with Zina and Helena; Steffi could have done better with Lori, Helena or even Liz Smylie. At any rate, only Martina & Pam could beat them on a consistent basis. I'm pretty sure Graf/Sabatini had victories over all the other top doubles teams of that time.
They were a damn site better as a team than the vast majority of teams that I see on the tour now. Ok they did not have the prowess of Navratilova and Shriver but they could play a nice looking doubles and it did generate more interest in the womens doubles game. Graf played with Renee Stubbs a few times and I am sure that they won the German Open one year?
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