Navratilova's outburst is 'Rubbish' says Felgate attacks LTA

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The Independent Online

David Felgate has described Martina Navratilova's criticisms of the British coaching system as "absolute rubbish".

The Lawn Tennis Association's performance director was responding to Navratilova's claim that she would never have reached the top if she had been raised in Britain. Navratilova, speaking after she received the Lifetime Achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality Awards, said: "I've been asking some questions and the opportunities are not as equal for the girls as the boys. If you try and make everybody look the same way and play the same way then you are going to lose people.

"I would never have made it under that system," she added. "They are just trying to do it one way. You just have to have the right kind of player and not coach them in only one way."

Felgate said such criticism was "totally unfounded" and was disappointed Navratilova did not speak to him on Sunday night as they were sitting only two rows apart. He said: "She is obviously a great champion and I have the utmost respect for her but what she says is totally unfounded. We do not take players and try to make them all look the same or play the same. I am absolutely flabbergasted by that.

"We said 'Hello' at the awards but she never said a word about this. She is talking without asking any facts. It's very disappointing at a time when we are trying to move forwards. We are trying to do everything we can but the LTA is an easy target."

Felgate accepted Navratilova's statement that no British woman is "threatening to get into the world's top 50" - the British No 1, Anne Keothavong, is No 175 - but said progress is being made. He recently announced changes to the Wimbledon wild card system, making it harder for players to gain entry, and added: "We have been making a huge change in the culture but I am not naïve, I know we will be judged on results. There have been moves in the world rankings and it's not always about what the LTA can do for you. The players have to put in the work as well."