Saturday, December 15, 2012

Martina Navratilova and Nancy Lieberman change women's tennis forever - Part 1

From the book Én Bold Ad Gangen - Wozniack, US Open 2009 by Anders Haahr Rasmussen , page 71-72

… Caroline Wozniacki adjusts her right earring. A five centimetre long diamond-encrusted rod made of gold and white gold, that swings back and forth with every step she takes. It doesn’t bother her. Around her neck she has a necklace of white gold, and on her ring finger a gold ring with a 1.5 carat diamond. Her Rosendahl watch with the wide, calf leather strap is on her left wrist. According to Wozniacki, it’s especially nice because it can take hard training, even if it’s feminine. On her right wrist is one of her dearest possessions, a gold and white gold bracelet with one carat diamondsand an inlaid four leaf clover inherited from her grandmother.  Wozniacki is playing with jewellery worth over 200,000. Her clothes are designed by Stella McCartney and are described by Wozniacki herself as ballerina-like, good to move in but still very feminine.

This desire to decorate oneself might seem strange in connexion with a professional tennis match. The necessity of insisting on "feminine" in word and deed may seem odd. But it really isn't. We need to go back to the summer of 1981 to find part of the explanation.

In July, a 24 year-old defector, Martina Navratilova, was in London and in a bad mood. People had said she was the next great champion, but it wasn't going according to plan.

She'd just lost her semi-final match at Wimbledon, and, a few weeks earlier, she'd lost her quarter final match at Roland Garros. The question was, now that she'd started her sixth season as a professional, would she win more than the two Wimbledon trophies she'd won at the end of the 70s?

Her rival, Chris Evert, topped the world rankings and had humiliated her 6-0, 6-0 the last time they'd met. Martina began to train. Really train.

Of course, professional tennis players had always trained. And the practise shot making and running that up to now had been part of the programme would make them sweat, but it was nothing in comparison to the almost military training programme Martina decided to undertake.

With the help of Nancy Lieberman, one of the world's most famous basketball stars, whom she'd met a few months previously, Navratilova would undergo a training regime that would change modern tennis forever.

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