Tennis / Wimbledon '94: Navratilova's last Wimbledon: Pam Shriver bids an emotional farewell to her former doubles partner

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The Independent Online
SIMPLY by being there yesterday, Martina had achieved what she craved: to make her last match at Wimbledon a final on Centre Court. Nevertheless, victory would have been the crowning jewel on what has been a legendary career.

She went out in great style. She could have won and that would have been a fairy tale, but she played well and it was great to see the response of the crowd. I was crying; it was extremely emotional to see her out there for the last time.

What has made her so successful are elements typical of the best grass-court players: attacking an opponent's second serve, the touch around the net, the reach, the going back for the overheads and her approach shots - that sliced backhand in particular - are great. She has also developed a very tough mental approach, something she had to work hard on because discipline and training did not come easily early in her career.

As a doubles partner of hers, one of the more emotional moments I remember was in 1985 when we were going for our fifth consecutive Wimbledon title. We had a 109-match winning streak going, and we lost in the final to Smylie and Jordan. In the locker-room afterwards, I remember, the two of us were in a state of shock but, at the same time, we were recalling the two years during which we hadn't lost. We both had a little cry.

It is hard to quantify how great her contribution to the game has been. In the past few years, the crowds have grown to appreciate her and respect her. I can compare Martina's retirement only with the loss of Chris Evert. Chrissie retired in 1989, yet the void was quickly filled; Seles was just starting to assert herself, Capriati came bursting on to the scene, Arantxa won the French Open. It will be similar with Martina: we will miss her, but the circuit goes on.

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