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Discussion Starter #1
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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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. :eek:h:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
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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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. :eek:h:

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 :lol:), 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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Discussion Starter #5
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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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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Discussion Starter #7
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.

Noirves! Who needs 'em?
 

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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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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!

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."

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. :eek:h:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
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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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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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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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. :lol:

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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Discussion Starter #14
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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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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Discussion Starter #16
I agree that Martina was a bit burnt by this time but I think the biggest factor was how threatened she was by such a rapidly improving young Graf when Martina was getting ever so close to catching Evert in slam hauls and had Court in her sights. It just seemed as if Graf's meteoric rise wasn't in her plans and suddenly she wasn't guaranteed of catching Evert, let alone getting near The Reverendress. If she was even a wee singed then this all fried her. She had cut back her schedule by a handful of tournies in 1987 (was it five or six less than the previous two years?) but she never took the huge breaks that Chris started taking in 1977-78 winter, which definitely prolonged her career. I think Martina would have benefited from doing something similar but I don't think she would ever have allowed herself. Her only real break was the fall 1990 surgery that forced her to rest. So absolutely, she was crisp, but it's just fascinating to me that no one had the guts to tell her that using Steffi's 'magical' racket and strangely painting it pitch black was weird, embarrassing and just going to add to her stress level since everyone knew and was snickering, and not snickering behind her back. It was so unbelievable and fun to watch. As much as I wanted Martina to kick Steffi's haughty ass, my teenage self couldn't help but be absolutely stunned how insecure she came across by doing this. What was next... Ivan Lendl wearing Boris Becker's used magical jock strap?

I just couldn't imagine Chris ever doing this or even entertaining the thought. I would love to hear her thoughts on this at the time. Did she ever comment in a press or otherwise?
 

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I agree that Martina was a bit burnt by this time but I think the biggest factor was how threatened she was by such a rapidly improving young Graf when Martina was getting ever so close to catching Evert in slam hauls and had Court in her sights. It just seemed as if Graf's meteoric rise wasn't in her plans and suddenly she wasn't guaranteed of catching Evert, let alone getting near The Reverendress.
There was even more an existential crisis going on. Beyond the quest for numbers, the way Steffi was playing was seriously shaking Martina's core belief that full-time serve and volley was the One True Way To Play (please see Post #4633 in the Steffi thread http://www.tennisforum.com/showpost.php?p=55912922&postcount=4633 ).

Martina: Here's my advice if you want to be the best, kid. You had better concentrate on your net game, because inside the service line is where you win points.

Steffi: The winning area of the court is anyplace.

Martina: Well, even if it is, you still have a better chance up at net.

Steffi: The area from which I can hit a winner is 1404 square feet -- and even more if you realize I can hit winners from way behind the baseline and outside the doubles allies. If you restrict yourself to inside the service line, you only have 567 square feet from which to hit a winner -- and even less if you're playing all-out serve and volley, because too close to the service line itself is no man's land. Plus, I know exactly where you are going to be, or at least want to be, after every time you serve. If I can predict what you're going to do more than 70% of the time, I am going to win.

Martina: All those numbers made my eyes glaze over or my glasses fog up, I'm not sure which. At any rate, maybe you can get away with playing like that, but there's no way the other girls will ever manage it.

Steffi: I am but the first.

Martina: Hush your crazy talk!

I just couldn't imagine Chris ever doing this or even entertaining the thought. I would love to hear her thoughts on this at the time. Did she ever comment in a press or otherwise?
Nothing much about the racket switch, but Chrissie wasn't above making some comments about Martina's insecurity and possibly even pushing some buttons on the eve of Wimbledon 1988.
 

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I remember when this happened and Martina claimed that she borrowed Carling Bassett's Max 200G during a practice session in Rome '87 and she was really impressed with how it felt. That said, the reality of the situation is that Martina did beat Steffi at both Wimbledon and Flushing Meadow that year playing with the Dunlop and in straight sets both times no less and nearly beat her at Roland Garros as well.

I'm not a fan of Martina's by any means but I don't really recall much being made out of her playing with Graf's racquet in the media, especially since she, well, you know, beat her convincingly at both Wimbledon and the Open with it. By the time Wimbledon '88 came around it was old news.
 

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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.
That was Lotto in 1994. Both Martina and Boris were dropped by Puma in 1988 due to the company's bad financial shape (in Becker's case there is some discrepancy as to whether Puma dropped him or he dropped Puma due to non-payment). It is difficult to tell if Martina and/or her agents really didn't understand how endorsements work (i.e., a company does not just give you more money for winning because of some social obligation; you need to help the company "move units" and not ask for too high of a percentage of the profits generated) or if Martina just wanted/needed to vent her various frustrations to the press.
 
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