Tennis: Navratilova's theory: Champion suggests talent too thinly spread

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The Independent Online
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA yesterday proposed an elite series of top-ranking events to reawaken public interest in the game.

'There should be a maximum of 12-15 huge events, maybe one a month, where all the top players compete,' Navratilova, 37, said in Rome. 'At the moment we're asking each other, who won this week? Who cares?'

After saying the talent was too thinly spread in the myriad middle-ranking tournaments, Navratilova also suggested rescheduling the Grand Slam events. 'The Australian Open (in January) should be pushed back so that you're in form before it starts, not half-way through,' she said.

She also proposed moving back Wimbledon from its traditional two weeks in late June and early July. 'If we pushed Wimbledon back then we could have a proper grass- court circuit,' she said.

Speaking at the Italian Open, she criticised plans announced by the Australian Open organisers to make the women's final the best-of-five sets. 'Maybe the men should play best of three,' she said with a laugh. 'The game is already too slow. People don't want to sit through a five-hour match. Players now take so long between points that even a 6-4, 6-4 can last two hours.'

She repeated her backing for moves to increase the age at which youngsters can turn professional from 14 to 16, so avoiding burn-out. 'If players start too early they either end up wiped out physically or emotionally,' she said.