Navratilova to enter Wimbledon doubles

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The Independent Online

Martina Navratilova who retired from tennis almost 5 1/2 years ago, will enter the women's doubles draw at Wimbledon, her spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Navratilova, a nine-time singles champion at Wimbledon, will play with South Africa's Mariaan de Swardt at the tournament which runs June 26-July 9, said Linda Dozoretz.

"Wimbledon has always been the most special to her. She always left the door open that she may do it again," Dozoretz said.

Navratilova, 43, has won seven women's double titles and three mixed doubles competitions at Wimbledon, giving her a total of 19 titles. That mark is one shy of Billie Jean King's record of 20.

"I think she's always had her eye on that," Dozoretz said of the record. "She's been playing a lot and feeling good about it. She's still very much in shape."

Navratilova last won the Wimbledon doubles title in 1986 with Pam Shriver and reached the final in her last year on the tour in 1994, losing to Conchita Martinez of Spain. She did however, return to play mixed doubles for the next two years and won the title with Jonathan Stark in 1995.

Navratilova gained a wild-card entry last week to compete with de Swardt at the tuneup event June 17-24 in Eastbourne, England.

Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and a record 332 career championships before retiring. De Swardt, 29, won the Eastbourne doubles title with Jana Novotna in 1998.