Wimbledon starts today. What better way to herald in the greatest tennis event on the planet than acknowledging, what many consider to be the world’s best ever female player, the Czechoslovakian-born, Martina Navratilova. In 2005 TENNIS magazine selected her as the greatest player between 1965-2005, but it’s hard to find anyone better from any era.
Her amazing record stands alone and too numerous to list here, other than a not-so-brief highlights summary. She held the Number 1 spot for 332 weeks in singles and a record 237 weeks in doubles, making her the only player in history to hold the top spots in singles and doubles for over 200 weeks. Martina has won 18 Grand Slam singles, 31 doubles (another record) and 10 mixed doubles Grand Slam titles. This includes a record 9 Wimbledon titles, with a run of six consecutive victories from 1982-87. She is one of only three players to have achieved a ‘Career Grand Slam’ in singles, doubles and mixed doubles-known as the Grand Slam boxed set’, a distinction she holds with Margaret Court and Doris Hart. Martina’s record is widely regarded as the best performance ever of any professional player-male or female at a major event.
I have been keen to get a signed Martina sketch for a number of years. She is a permanent fixture during The Championships at SW19 these days, as a commentator and competitor in the Invitational Doubles, but has remained elusive, until yesterday, when I happened to be hanging around Gate 13, as one does on the day before ‘hit-off’ and she happened to walk out and down the road with a purposeful stride, followed by a handful of devotees in hot (30 degree heat) pursuit. Mission accomplished.