Navratilova eyes Wimbledon

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The Independent Online

Martina Navratilova may yet appear at her 24th consecutive Wimbledon this year, with the prospect of equalling the record of 20 titles at the championships.

"It is completely 50-50 at this point, I really don't know," Navratilova said. "We will see how the body responds when I start putting it through the paces again." The 39-year-old retired from playing full time in 1994, but at her 23rd consecutive Wimbledon last year she won the mixed doubles with the American Jonathan Stark for her 19th Wimbledon crown.

Navratilova holds the Wimbledon record of nine singles titles and has also claimed seven women's doubles titles and three mixed doubles crowns at the All-England Club. Billie Jean King holds the record, with 20 Wimbledon titles. King teamed up with Navratilova in 1979 for the last of her titles.

Stark has committed himself to playing with Navratilova again this year, and she said she hoped to make up her mind by April. Navratilova also said she may still play women's doubles at Wimbledon if she can find a suitable partner, although she entertains no such thoughts about any of the other Grand Slam tournaments. "The place is magical and I love playing on grass," she said. "The chances are that if Wimbledon was played on any other surface I probably wouldn't be as tempted."

Britain's hope of a Wimbledon title, Greg Rusedski, was defeated by Michael Joyce in the first round of the Comcast US Indoor Championships in Philadelphia. Rusedski's big serve was countered by the American, who prevailed 6-4, 1-6, 6-1.

Another American, Vince Spadea, maintained the good form he showed in the qualifying tournament, beating Paul Haarhuis 6-0, 6-2. The Dutchman was a semi-finalist last year, but the world No 45, who beat Pete Sampras in Philadelphia last year, lasted just 51 minutes this time.