Navratilova goes with another swing at Graf

Barry Wood watches a tennis legend fall short in her attempt to win a 20th Wimbledon title
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The Independent Online
There is a strange calm that descends upon the All England Club on the final week of the Championships. The crowds are gone, and the outside courts are all but deserted. That calm did not, this year, extend into the referee's office as Wimbledon engaged in an impossible race against the clock to tie things up by nightfall on the 13th day.

The mixed doubles event was the most badly affected by July's April showers. A third-round match had still to be played, and its completion saw the final farewell of Jeremy Bates, a former champion with Jo Durie. On this occasion he was partnered by the Australian Nicole Bradtke, and the pair were beaten 6-4, 6-4 by the top seeds and Australian Open champions, Mark Woodforde and Larisa Neiland.

The quarter-finals also saw the departure of Martina Navratilova, perhaps for the last time, but she refused to go quietly. After pausing to repeat on Court One her Centre Court act of last year in plucking grass as a memento, she launched into another attack concerning the ladies champion, Steffi Graf, but this time directed her comments at those who surround her, and the press.

"She always has something wrong with her that she doesn't really talk about, but somebody in her camp always lets it be known there is something wrong. She always has something happening with her body and I think it's a good distraction," said Navratilova after she and Jonathan Stark had lost 7-6, 7-6 to Grant Connell and Lindsay Davenport.

"There are definitely things wrong with her. That was obvious in the second round when the knee started bothering her. But she's been able to overcome them. I don't think it's her. She doesn't want to talk about it, but the press keeps bringing it up and they exaggerate it to an unbelievable extent.

"She pinches her knee and you read that Graf is questionable for Wimbledon. You sneeze and the next thing you know you have pneumonia. There seems to be a tendency [for her] to have a built-in excuse, but if you believe the press Steffi should be in hospital. If you look at her, she runs like a gazelle. ''

The Boys' singles was won by Vladimir Voltchkov, of Belarus, who defeated Ivan Ljubicic, of Croatia, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Amelie Mauresmo of France took the Girls singles, beating Spain's Maria Serna 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

There might have been an all-British Boys' doubles final, but both pairs instead fell at the semi-final stage. Martin Lee, a winner last year with James Trotman, played with David Sherwood and was beaten in two tie-breaks by the South African pairing of Damien Roberts and Wesley Whitehouse. Ben Haran and Simon Pender came off second best to Daniele Bracciali, of Italy, and Jocelyn Robichaud, of Canada, losing 6-3, 6-4.

Wojtek Fibak and Tim Wilkison won the 35 and over Gentlemen's doubles, defeating Pavel Slozil and Tomas Smid 6-2, 5-7, 6-1. The 45 and over title went to John Alexander and Phil Dent, who defeated Marty Riessen and Sherwood Stewart 7-6, 6-2.


roll of honour


R Krajicek (Neth)

pounds 392,500


S Graf (Ger)

pounds 353,000


T Woodbridge and

M Woodforde (Aus)

pounds 160,810



W J Fibak (Pol) and T Wilkison (US)



J G Alexander and

P C Dent (Aus)


V Voltchkov (Bela)


D Bracciali (It) and

J Robichaud (Can)


A Mauresmo (Fr)