The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Sunday, September 10, 2006  

Navratilova Comes Out Goes Out Winning

Better news from the U.S. Open than that below: Martina Navratilova, just short, or maybe shy, of her 50th birthday for crying out loud, and her, um, partner, Bob Bryan, yesterday won the mixed doubles title, defeating Kveta Peschke and Martin Damm (Nope, I never heard of 'em either.), 6-2, 6-3.

The New York Times reports this is Navratilova's 345th career tournament victory and 59th grand slam title, and very likely to be her last since she has promised, we are to believe, that this year's U.S. Open was her final appearance on the regular pro tour.

Sadly, the Times also reports Arthur Ashe Stadium was "half empty" during the match. I wish I had been there to see her valedictory, if nothing else to help fill the crowd. I remember, back when I first started playing and watching (mostly watching) tennis, the -- and there's no other word for this -- fat Martina (she was an admitted McDonald's junkie then, post-defection from Czechoslovakia) of the mid-1970s, struggling to find her way alone as she was alternatively exploited and encouraged by friends, both real and imagined. She pulled through, though, and then some.

Over time, after pushing aside, or at least outlasting, the athletically inferior Chris Evert and others, and moving past the commonly accepted notion of "prime," that is, as she aged, she won fewer titles but won enough matches still to matter and remain at the edges of the limelight, and then kept things going with a second career in the underappreciated world of professional doubles, an entirely different game as those who have played will attest. I appreciated that and my admiration and respect increased, even accelerated, in turn.

You know you're getting older when a hero bows out, especially as gracefully as the supreme athlete Navratilova has done, and you think to yourself, they don't make them like that anymore and you know they never will.

| HOME |

The Rittenhouse Review | Copyright 2002-2006 | PERMALINK |