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An interesting story from Helga Niessen-Masthoff ;)

Any funny stories to share from your time on the tennis circuit?
HM: In 1974, I played against Martina Navratilova three times during the clay swing. I beat her in the final of the German Open in Hamburg, then she won in the quarterfinals at Rome, and then I got the upper hand again at Roland Garros. I remember before one of the matches she said to me: “Let me win today, you're already older than me.” I’m sure I won that day!

 
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Does any one think Martina would have been even better if she was taught to hit drive volleys along with the traditional ones.

I think it would have made her transition to the net even more effective and she could have countered Evert more effectively on clay.
 

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Are you referring to swinging volleys, like Seles ushered in? I think Martina’s traditional punch volleys were incredibly effective. Plus it just wasn’t her game.
 

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Are you referring to swinging volleys, like Seles ushered in? I think Martina’s traditional punch volleys were incredibly effective. Plus it just wasn’t her game.
Well the swinging volleys existed since the time of lenglen , so it certainly predates Seles.

Martina's traditional volleys were among the best ever , no doubt about it.

What i wanted to hypothesize was that if Martina also developed the swinging volleys to allow for a more forceful transition to the net, especially off some floaty or loopy balls taking pressure off her ground strokes and reemphasizing her volleying prowess .

I wish I had seen her incorporate more swing volleys in her 2000-2006 doubles comeback.
 

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Can you remember how often did Martina get a foot-fault call against her as a S&V player? I can't remember any. (Come to my mimd because there have been so many foot-fault calls at the first few days at thos year's French Open.)
 

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Piece about Martina in Irish Times from a couple of weeks ago

At the risk of turning this political, I think the hyper-partisan tribalism that fed Trumpism was a direct result of the internet and social media. Had we had twitter 30 years ago, Trumpism without Trump might have arrived 30 years earlier.
 

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Can you remember how often did Martina get a foot-fault call against her as a S&V player? I can't remember any. (Come to my mimd because there have been so many foot-fault calls at the first few days at thos year's French Open.)
I don't recall Martina foot-faulting often, if ever. I recall reading something on BFTP once about Chris Evert, of all people, getting multiple foot fault calls in one of her matches during her last year on the tour. It made me laugh because Evert was the last person you'd expect to commit foot faults, given the nature of her service motion.
 

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I don't recall Martina foot-faulting often, if ever. I recall reading something on BFTP once about Chris Evert, of all people, getting multiple foot fault calls in one of her matches during her last year on the tour. It made me laugh because Evert was the last person you'd expect to commit foot faults, given the nature of her service motion.
Hahaha, that is funny, just goes to show how much of a shambles Chrissie's game was in by the last year of her career.
 

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It’s weird how up and down that year was for her. Not that it would be weird for any athlete to have a roller coaster year after two decades at the top, and in their swan song year, but for Chris it was. I remember being shocked at the ease in which she wiped the court with Seles, fully expecting a dramatic 3 set finale with Martina in the semis. Then, flat as a pancake against zina. I actually thought she might stay another year after the match with Graf in the spring, then at Wimbledon she looked utterly outclassed, as if that match was years later, when it was only a few months time.
she was still number 4 when she quit, which is amazing.
 

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It’s weird how up and down that year was for her. Not that it would be weird for any athlete to have a roller coaster year after two decades at the top, and in their swan song year, but for Chris it was. I remember being shocked at the ease in which she wiped the court with Seles, fully expecting a dramatic 3 set finale with Martina in the semis. Then, flat as a pancake against zina. I actually thought she might stay another year after the match with Graf in the spring, then at Wimbledon she looked utterly outclassed, as if that match was years later, when it was only a few months time.
she was still number 4 when she quit, which is amazing.
I'm always surprised to find out how high she was ranked when she retired, mainly because her loses at GS that year were so uninspiring (in spite of some good wins in the tournament, i.e. the Seles match) and then lost to Ann Minter at the Canadian, but then also plays her best match in years against Steffi at the VS of Florida...
 

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I don't want to hijack Martina's thread, but I think Chris might have played on for another year had it not been for the emergence of Sanchez and Seles as challengers to Graf at the French Open that year. Even before the French, Evert had conceded that she wasn't going to win any more major titles in Paris following her losses to Seles in Houston and Paulus in Geneva.

By 1987-88 she had accepted that she wasn't going to challenge Graf for #1. In 1989 it became clear that Navratilova was still a very strong and dominant (versus the rest of the field) #2. Between June and December Navratilova lost only to Graf and even then managed to win a set off Steffi in all of those losses. That left Chris having to battle not only Sabatini (who hadn't been written off yet) but also Sanchez, Seles and Garrison for the ranking spots from #3.

Furthermore if she had given up on winning the French, that left the Australian and US Opens as her only legitimate shots because she must have known she wasn't going to beat both Navratilova and Graf to win Wimbledon. Ultimately her up and down form coupled with the knowledge that she likely would have to settle for a few smaller tournaments here and there would have been too much for her champion's pride.

I thought she still managed to stay at a very high level until the end in spite of her losses to the likes of Minter and Paulus. She was a few months shy of her 35th birthday when she retired and had played at an unbelievably high level for 17 years. And 1989 was the only year when she failed to win a single tournament. Not bad for a 34-year-old about to retire.

Anyway, back to Martina now. I think she would have won in straight sets had the dream US Open semi actually happened. Martina was playing at a very high level that summer and I don't know if Chris could have pushed her to three, especially since the scheduling would likely have been different. Had Chris reached the semis, I'm sure Graf vs Sabatini would have been the first semifinal followed by the dream matchup of Martina vs Chrissie in the sweltering humidity of that afternoon.
 

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Did any of the other Czechoslovak players like Tomanova, Marsikova or Strachonova ever talk about how they felt after Navratilova defected during the 1975 US Open?

I vaguely recall Mandlikova discussing the defection in her book, but did any of the other players resent Navratilova for taking the bold step that others might have also wanted to but didn't dare to? Did the Czechoslovak authorities impose tighter restrictions on their movement following Navratilova's defection? Did they resent Martina for inadvertently making their life more difficult or perhaps for taking away the Czechoslovak team's chances of winning more Federation Cup titles?

I also remember Helena Sukova saying once or twice that her mother felt hurt and betrayed but did not talk much about the incident.

Martina herself has said that many ordinary Czechs and Slovaks admired her guts and were proud of her for sticking it to the system and presumably some of the other players were too, but we have heard only Navratilova's perspective on it. I am curious to hear the other side of the story.
 
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Hi Samn-there is a thread about Helena Sukova that may tell more. It's a treasure as the thread writer translated her autobiography from Czech!

Another good source would probably be any biography or autobiography about Ivan Lendl, as he was growing up in that era.

I don't know for sure, but I suspect Czech authorities loosened their grip after Martina. By the late 70's it was clear tennis players could rake in money. Money not only for the player, but the state itself. They were some interesting games of chess, with neither the players nor the government making a move they couldn't take back. Other than a minor defective Martina was the last big tennis defection from Eastern Europe.

It's an excellent question I wish we knew more about.
 

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I heard Navratilova say in an interview a few years ago that Jan Kodes thought her defection was unnecessary and that things would have got better over time. Martina didn't say it explicitly in that interview, but she implied that Kodes' opinion was that of a man who didn't understand what it was like to be a woman playing on the women's tour.

I do remember that the Czechoslovak government did eventually loosen its grip, especially after Ivan Lendl and Hana Mandlikova started winning tournaments. IIRC Peter Bodo wrote in a TENNIS article that they didn't want the embarrassment of another defection playing out in the public eye. Lendl, if you recall, never officially defected, but was a resident of Greenwich, Conn. for years before he officially became a US citizen.

Helena Sukova was likely never a defection risk considering she was the daughter of Cyril Suk and Vera Sukova, but I imagine the Czechoslovak authorities might have worried at least somewhat about the temperamental Mandlikova. As it was, Hana ended up using a marriage of convenience as her ticket to the 'West'.

The whole affair was just something I became curious about after looking up how the Czechoslovak team fared in the Federation Cup in the post-Martina and pre-Hana years. It's fun (for me, anyway :LOL: ) to wonder how the players 'left behind' felt about Navratilova. Was there envy? Resentment? Admiration? A bit of everything?
 
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----Helena Sukova's mom, Vera, ended her book Do you Want to Win Wimbledon? with these words:

----I know very well what good athletic representation abroad means for socialist Czechoslovakia. Therefore, I want to give all of my skills to the young tennis prospects. I wish for them to take the victorious baton for our country all over the world.

The book was published in 1980.

I wonder if her book mentions Navratilova at all.
 

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Helena Sukova talking about the effects of communism on her career development. I've highlighted her comments at how the big 3 (Martina, Ivan, and Hana) escaped this.

Look, I don't ask anyone to feel sorry for me since I wasn't allowed to do something in that era. I don't even think about it. I don't think that I could have had, as far as my childhood or my start as a tennis player somewhere outside of the Czech Republic, better conditions for my tennis growth, better people around me, at least as far as my closest surroundings.
----It's different, though, when you enter the international tennis scene. I am profoundly convinced that when it comes to self-confidence, to how you manage to move around in the big world of tennis, then we were at a disadvantage.
----It started with seemingly silly things, like they sent you out into the world, and still sometimes from really humiliating passport and visa formalities, and in the process they furnished such sums of money that it was barely enough for a decent bed and a hamburger. The worst was the feeling that whether you liked it or not, you were confronted with a world where certain things were commonplace and you didn't have them. As soon as players whose results are no different than yours, or are even worse, can afford what you can't, and it's basically the normal standard, nothing exceptional, you can't feel good, much less masterful or self-confident.
----I wouldn't wish on anyone those embarrassing situations when immediately after you finish taking part in a tournament you dash for the check and then race to the bank, lest it close. Because otherwise, you're threatened with debt at the hotel because you don't have any cash. That isn't any indulgence; it's the normal feeling of a person who simply doesn't feel comfortable under those circumstances. Any Czech tennis player from those days will confirm that that just terribly annoyed him. It was degrading, and even more absurd was that almost everyone thought that I was a millionaire, thought of how much money I had stashed away, and I don't know what. It went so far that at the airport they sometimes searched us like smugglers. Once, they literally wanted us to strip naked...
----It also annoyed me terribly when they sent us abroad with coaches or officials abroad who absolutely could not help with anything. I knew very well that next to me was a person who was useless to me, but I couldn't even peep. At least until a certain time.
----A whole separate chapter were the opportunities connected to the sponsors' interest. The fact that I was from Czechoslovakia meant that I automatically had less value for them than, maybe, an American. As far as I know, for example, Jennifer Capriati- whom they said was a wunderkind- made a million dollars even before she could win anything at all. We could play like gods, but no one paid much attention to most of us, and the thing is that our offers weren't by a long shot comparable to those which players from, for example, Western Europe or the USA received.
----Of course, that is also related to media interest. The center of attention for most journalists were their own "horses", whereas in Czechoslovakia our journalists (apart from very few exceptions) were not allowed to go abroad with us.
----All of this, then, has an impact on you, how you feel, how confident you are, how you deal with other people. Sometimes we were overly deferential where it wasn't necessary; we lacked more self-confidence and I think that for an athlete, that has an impact on your psychological growth.
----Martina Navratilova, Ivan Lendl, and Hana Mandlikova ultimately solved that by leaving, which substantially eased their path to reaching athletic heights, and hardly anyone realizes that fact these days...
----To make it clear: nobody stole my childhood or youth, but if I have often been plagued by a lack of self-confidence, even though Honza Kurz claims that I had a surplus of it, I think the roots of why I sometimes lacked it came from that era.
 

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$32 dollars a day.......Sukova on 1983-when she was a top 20 player.

----Unfortunately, my well-being was affected by the fact that while I was playing in professional tournaments and receiving money, I had to pay everything back to the tennis federation, so it was necessary to save where I could. It was always complicated because at tournaments they gave out checks, and when a player lost more or less before Friday, everything was easier. You could take a check, go to the bank, and exchange money, so you had funds until the next week. When I made it to the semifinals, though, which were played on Saturday, all the banks were closed. For another week in a different city, then, it was terribly difficult to get money in hand from a check because every country is different, and even if it was in America, all the banks would look to make sure everything was okay. For Americans or players from Western Europe it was simpler because the money got calmly put into an account and then taken out out with the help of a credit card, but citizens from our republic couldn't have an account overseas. It was all more complicated. I regularly received an allowance, which was $32 per day, and then, when I was in Europe, I received money based on the allowances listed for a given country. But what could you do? When you were on tour, you saved up some money, but after returning home there was the problem of the given money [?] being with you for other trips taken out with you once more abroad. Even today, these recollections seem unbelievable to me. It confirms a well-known fact that bad memories fade with time, and their sometimes even terrifying reality loses strength.
 
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