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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 8th, 2015, 07:46 AM Thread Starter
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Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

I think I started in the steffi thread which is coasting along nicely in a late spring/early winter of our 'scared shitless here comes that big German girl', 1987...
But, appropriately the requisite youtube search lead all the way up to the fascinating 1988 Oz semi where Chris trounced 'tini in straights and even in the pixelated fuzz, there was the old MN logo on her pitch black racket!

she was STILL 'secretly' using Steffi's Dunlop Max 200G!

I had thought that ended after she killed Steffi in both the W & USO finals.

So, I was wondering if anyone knows just how long Martina played with Steffi's racket, as if it held some magic secret (can you just imagine the level of insecurity this must require...I'm the best ever, but she's beating me, so it just may be the racket! YES, that's it!)!

Wait, I lost again. No that's not it.
Back to japan I go, to grovel...
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 8th, 2015, 04:40 PM
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

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I think I started in the steffi thread which is coasting along nicely in a late spring/early winter of our 'scared shitless here comes that big German girl', 1987...
But, appropriately the requisite youtube search lead all the way up to the fascinating 1988 Oz semi where Chris trounced 'tini in straights and even in the pixelated fuzz, there was the old MN logo on her pitch black racket!

she was STILL 'secretly' using Steffi's Dunlop Max 200G!

I had thought that ended after she killed Steffi in both the W & USO finals.

So, I was wondering if anyone knows just how long Martina played with Steffi's racket, as if it held some magic secret (can you just imagine the level of insecurity this must require...I'm the best ever, but she's beating me, so it just may be the racket! YES, that's it!)!

Wait, I lost again. No that's not it.
Back to japan I go, to grovel...
If I recall correctly, Martina was using a back-framed Dunlop-looking racket even in the 1988 Wimbledon final. But she used a Yonex at the 1988 USO. I think she was trying out a Yonex at the 1988 Canadian Open, when she needed to get back into some sponsor's good graces after being dropped by Puma. Martina the Elder seems to have been a little difficult to work with.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 9th, 2015, 05:32 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

Wow, so it was nearly 1.5 years of using the Max 200G with the MN logo painted on the strings. So weird. And, so funny!
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

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Wow, so it was nearly 1.5 years of using the Max 200G with the MN logo painted on the strings. So weird. And, so funny!
Probably had a lot to do with needing to work her way back into Yonex's good graces -- and Yonex wanting to wait to see if they could resign her for her less money.

The Navratilova side of the Navratilova-Graf rivalry was weird, especially the 1987-1989 phase. It's funny from a distance (and the Graf side ), but, wow, being that insecure and obsessed with positions within an artificial and insignificant hierarchy must be torturous.

On a vaguely-related tangent, Steffi and John McEnroe had a practice session together in 1987, leading Mac to ask the Dunlop people if Steffi was playing with a different model of the Max 200G. They assured him it was the exact same racket as his. So Martina wasn't the only one wondering if there was some special racket mojo going on.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 9th, 2015, 05:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

Wow! That is funny. Mac was so far gone by that time, never to return.

Yes, the 1987-89 phase on Martina's side was uncomfortable and hard to watch. I hated the fake death grin that BJK recommended to Martina to relax her when she was losing to Steffi. It was all so very Tales from the Crypt.
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

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Wow! That is funny. Mac was so far gone by that time, never to return.

Yes, the 1987-89 phase on Martina's side was uncomfortable and hard to watch. I hated the fake death grin that BJK recommended to Martina to relax her when she was losing to Steffi. It was all so very Tales from the Crypt.
But so apropos after a fashion! BJK's facial expressions and body language in the 1989 Wimbledon and USO finals were hilarious, too. There's a great moment from the Wimbledon final when the look on her face clearly reads: "But this is not what we believed would happen. And we believed that believing Graf isn't that good would work!"
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 10th, 2015, 06:09 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

Actually I don't think either Billie Mean (she screamed at me in June 1981 when I meekly asked for an autograph before a WTT match in Oakland when I was a wee 14) nor Martina underestimated Steffi or her incredible abilities. I think they both felt that a confident Martina still had a good chance during Steffi's heady years, but it was all show. Martina was never truly confident facing Steffi 1988-89 and they both knew it. She was scared. She looked scared. She looked jittery, on edge and well, old. I think BJK wanted to recreate the famous scene from Moonstruck where Cher slaps Ghostface and screams, Snap out of it! C'mon martina, get over it. Gaby beat her twice with her loopy strokes and crappy second serve! Hell Pam 'Clown Feet' Shriver nailed her even tho she had diarehhea and such! Get over it Martina and just play the ball!

But the old chap just couldn't...until—FINALLY THEY MEET AGAIN—Sept 1991. From there on the monkey was off her back and it was an even playing field.

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 10th, 2015, 09:06 AM
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

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Wow, so it was nearly 1.5 years of using the Max 200G with the MN logo painted on the strings. So weird. And, so funny!
There was even a period of time that she had the yonex logo painted on the strings until Dunlop told her to remove it. Thus the MN appeared on the strings.

When Martina made her doubles comeback she was playing with a racquet with the letter B on the strings? Which brand was that?

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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 10th, 2015, 10:42 PM
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

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Actually I don't think either Billie Mean (she screamed at me in June 1981 when I meekly asked for an autograph before a WTT match in Oakland when I was a wee 14)
C'mon, how could you not know how important World Team Tennis is? Any 14 year old should know better than to pester a great champion for anything before such a high-stakes situation!

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nor Martina underestimated Steffi or her incredible abilities. I think they both felt that a confident Martina still had a good chance during Steffi's heady years, but it was all show.
Given how much Martina played Steffi's backhand during BJK's tenure (there was one stretch of the 1989 Wim final when Steffi hit like 13 consecutive backhands in Martina's service games) and how surprised/crestfallen both of them acted when that tactic failed, I have to wonder whether it was more a case of "We both know it's not a great idea, but it's the only chance you have" or "Just do this and you'll win easy."

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Martina was never truly confident facing Steffi 1988-89 and they both knew it. She was scared. She looked scared. She looked jittery, on edge and well, old. I think BJK wanted to recreate the famous scene from Moonstruck where Cher slaps Ghostface and screams, Snap out of it! C'mon martina, get over it. Gaby beat her twice with her loopy strokes and crappy second serve! Hell Pam 'Clown Feet' Shriver nailed her even tho she had diarehhea and such! Get over it Martina and just play the ball!
BJK is probably not the right person to untie anyone's neurotic knots.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 11th, 2015, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

This was just a few weeks after BJK's Marilyn admission that she was 'bi at best' in 1972 and I was thrilled to finally see her in person. BJK was the only name player on either team, can you say Sharon Walsh, Ann Kiyomura, Larry Stefanki and Ray Ruffles? The trip to SF/Oakland was my middle school graduation present and I insisted that we get to the Oakland Coliseum very early so I could get everyone's autograph before the match began. And, by 'everyone' I really only wanted BJK's. My Dad went up to the very top of the arena to take some photos, hide and fall asleep (he had no interest but was an angel in taking me to so many matches in the 70/80s) while I stalked the courtside. Finally BJK came out and began her practice. When it appeared she was done and headed to her chair I very meekly asked 'Billie Jean, can I please get your autograph?' She looked up, scowled and then screamed, 'NO! NOT while I am practicing!' My Dad was still up in the nosebleeds a mile away in the empty arena and her words just reverberated and echoed for what seemed like minutes. When we met up a while later he said, 'wow, she's a real bitch' and we both proceeded to root against her and the Oakland Breakers for the duration of the match. Honestly I cannot recall if she won, but I imagine she did. Good times!
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post #11 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 11th, 2015, 08:56 PM
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

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This was just a few weeks after BJK's Marilyn admission that she was 'bi at best' in 1972 and I was thrilled to finally see her in person. BJK was the only name player on either team, can you say Sharon Walsh, Ann Kiyomura, Larry Stefanki and Ray Ruffles? The trip to SF/Oakland was my middle school graduation present and I insisted that we get to the Oakland Coliseum very early so I could get everyone's autograph before the match began. And, by 'everyone' I really only wanted BJK's. My Dad went up to the very top of the arena to take some photos, hide and fall asleep (he had no interest but was an angel in taking me to so many matches in the 70/80s) while I stalked the courtside. Finally BJK came out and began her practice. When it appeared she was done and headed to her chair I very meekly asked 'Billie Jean, can I please get your autograph?' She looked up, scowled and then screamed, 'NO! NOT while I am practicing!' My Dad was still up in the nosebleeds a mile away in the empty arena and her words just reverberated and echoed for what seemed like minutes. When we met up a while later he said, 'wow, she's a real bitch' and we both proceeded to root against her and the Oakland Breakers for the duration of the match. Honestly I cannot recall if she won, but I imagine she did. Good times!
Good to see Billie Jean "WTT Is Fan Friendly" King is consistent in her hypocrisy. Given the gal-imony fallout, I would have thought she'd be thrilled there was someone still asking for her autograph.
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post #12 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 12th, 2015, 05:00 AM
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

I think Dunlop made an ad about Martina using their racquet. I'm sure they got a lot of mileage out of it.

I actually played with a the Max 200G for two years in high school and can attest to the fact that it was a far more powerful racquet than what I previously had used. It helped me a lot on when stretched wide to get that little extra zip on the ball. And when I hit the ball hard and flat right in the sweet spot, it was a tremendous feeling. The one draw back was that I did not volley as well with it. I think it was the heavier weight of the racquet that caused me to sometimes be just a tad late on my volleys. If I wasn't paying attention, I would hit the top of the tape with my volleys. But when you're at the net you shouldn't have to think so hard about it. Never did get the timing where I wanted it.

I also remember the craziness of Martina's 1988 Family Circle Cup tournament. She started the tournament with the Wilson Hammer. But she had no real faith in it because in the midst of a three set QF with Rafaella Reggi, she pulled out the Dunlop and switched on the spot! Martina scrounged out a win over Manuela in the semis and then beat Gaby in an enjoyable final.

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post #13 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 12th, 2015, 05:05 AM
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

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This was just a few weeks after BJK's Marilyn admission that she was 'bi at best' in 1972 and I was thrilled to finally see her in person. BJK was the only name player on either team, can you say Sharon Walsh, Ann Kiyomura, Larry Stefanki and Ray Ruffles? The trip to SF/Oakland was my middle school graduation present and I insisted that we get to the Oakland Coliseum very early so I could get everyone's autograph before the match began. And, by 'everyone' I really only wanted BJK's. My Dad went up to the very top of the arena to take some photos, hide and fall asleep (he had no interest but was an angel in taking me to so many matches in the 70/80s) while I stalked the courtside. Finally BJK came out and began her practice. When it appeared she was done and headed to her chair I very meekly asked 'Billie Jean, can I please get your autograph?' She looked up, scowled and then screamed, 'NO! NOT while I am practicing!' My Dad was still up in the nosebleeds a mile away in the empty arena and her words just reverberated and echoed for what seemed like minutes. When we met up a while later he said, 'wow, she's a real bitch' and we both proceeded to root against her and the Oakland Breakers for the duration of the match. Honestly I cannot recall if she won, but I imagine she did. Good times!
I have always enjoyed your Billie Mean story! I can just picture poor lil Mark bewildered at having Madame Superstar scream at him.

In the late 90's I went to a WTA legends event at Stone Mountain, GA. BJK was playing doubles with Martina against Pam and Zina. So often during her Wimbledon commentary, I would hear her talk about "pronating" on your serve. I didn't even know what she meant. After she double faulted twice, I reminded her to "pronate" to which she glanced up and said, "I'm trying."

Well, Betty Stove was amused even if BJK wasn't. Not that I like to name drop or anything.

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post #14 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2015, 01:57 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

That is hilarious! She had gained some weight by then if I recall? I remember her playing the Virginia Slims of capriati as Jen's first doubles partner and being a bit shocked by how heavy she was. I had always figured BMK would be a lifer in terms of fitness.
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post #15 of 19 (permalink) Old Mar 13th, 2015, 02:25 AM
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Re: Martina and her Dunlop weirdness

Martina was dropped by Puma because they needed all their money for Boris Becker they traded a nine times Wimbledon champion for a three times one.
At least Puma was one of the European and Japanese firms who sponsored Martina Navratilova, so much better then the american companies who were such cowards and did not sponsor her at all.

Martina was burned out during the years mentionned above and when you are burned out you do weird things trying to fix it with a racquet but only rest did the trick.
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