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Hana Mandlikova

Born: February 19, 1962, Prague, Czechoslovakia

Citizenship: Czechoslovakia, Australia (1988)

Handed: Right

Just possibly there are more appealing to flop on your back than a grimy, steaming of asphalt in New York. But you won't convince Hana Mandlikova. It was her place in the furtive sun, and the bumpy landing she made,after whirling to bat a last spectacular volley, was a splendidly happy one. Hana gazed at the smoggy sky, and it seemed heaven as a deluge of and cheers from 21,169 captivated witnesses burst on her. The pavement of Flushing Meadow "didn't feel too bad. It felt nice," laughs Mandlikova, who arose from the floor as champion.

That was 1985. Seldom has the U.S. Open been illuminated by such a display of shotmaking fireworks. Hana's victim was Martina Navratilova at her zenith, 7-6 (7-3), 1-6, 7-6 (7-2). Like Martina, whom she'd admired while growing up in Prague (where she was born February 19, 1962), Hana was a magnificent athlete who felt the only thing better than attacking was attacking more.

As the star of the 40th Hall of Fame class, 1994, Hana is the third Czech, following Jaroslav Drobny and Jan Kodes. Her relatively early retirement at 28 concluded a professional career that commenced in 1978 and closed in 1990 after she had accumulated 27 singles, 15 pro doubles titles and $3,340,959 in prize money. At singles Hana was 567-195 in matches (.783) at doubles 253-104. She left ranked No. 14, having graced the World Top Ten seven times, 1980-82, 1984-87, No. 3 in 1984 and 1985. Her time was emblazoned by the irresistible crescendos of winning four majors: two Australian (1980, 1987), a French (1981) and her crown jewel U.S. Open. She had four other shots, finals of Wimbledon, and the U.S., 1980, 1982.

Her speed and jock genes came from her papa. Willem Mandlik, an Olympic 100-meter finalist for Czechoslovakia in 1956 and 1960, uttered a profound one-sentence summary of his nervous kid's one-sided defeat by Evert, 6-2, 6-2, in the 1981 Wimbledon final: "Boom-boom-boom. . . misss-miss-miss. . . quick-quick-quick!

Leggy and limber, a 5-foot-8 right-hander coltish in her movement, she was as high-strung living for flamboyant cavalry charges: "to impatient to stay on the baseline, on clay--even though I was raised on it--or anything," Hana smiles. "Jan Kodes was my first hero. I grew up watching him. I was a ballgirl for Martina [Navratilova] when I was 12, and she was a motivation for me. We played the same way--and I wanted to be good enough to beat her someday."

And she did, spoiling several big occasions for Martina. Even though she was 7-30 in their rivalry Hana won four of 10 major meetings, beating her elder at Wimbledon, twice at the U.S., once at the Australian. The last, the 1987 final, 7-5, 7-6, (7-2), ended Navratilova's 58-match winning streak. Three years earlier, winning Oakland, Hana snipped another of Martina's strings at 54. They got together to win the U.S. doubles in 1989.

Here's Helena's website:
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