SW19 diary: Martina roots for Henin

By Nick Harris
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The Independent Online

Martina Navratilova thinks Rafael Nadal will beat Roger Federer in this year's men's singles final and that Serena Williams will beat her sister Venus in the women's final, but in an exclusive interview yesterday with the SW19 Diary, the all-time most successful player in the history of tennis (men's or women's) told us whom she would actually like to win this year.

"Sentimentally, my tips are Andy Roddick in the men's and Justine Henin in the women's. I'd like to see Andy win because he's come so close and I think he deserves it, and for Justine to come out of retirement and complete her career Slam singles set would be wonderful."

Navratilova, 53, has just completed a six-week course of radiation treatment for breast cancer that was diagnosed earlier this year. "I had the last session last week in Paris," she said. "I threw a party. That's it over, I hope. I'll need regular check-ups but hopefully that's it, finished."

As befits a woman with a colossal appetite for achievement (a world record 167 titles, nine of them in the Wimbledon singles), Navratilova is not suddenly going to take life easy. Indeed, she is preparing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro later this year, leading a team of 28 people up the 5,895m (19,341ft) mountain to raise money for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. "I'm petrified of the physical challenge, but this is a cause I strongly believe in," she said.

The climb was planned before the diagnosis of cancer and Navratilova now jests: "Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is part of the approved treatment. Scaling new heights while battling cancer. Basically I'm cancer-free now and you're encouraged to be very active during and after radiation."

Martina Navratilova will climb Mount Kilimanjaro between 6 and 12 December to raise funds for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. To make a donation visit: www.laureus.com

Thumbs up for Robson

It would have been remiss to chat to Navratilova without asking for her view of Laura Robson. The verdict? "She's a good prospect, she can be top 20, top 10. She needs to loosen up because her motion is still quite mechanical but at 16 she's got room to improve. Being British is a bonus in one sense at Wimbledon because of the wild cards. In another it's not helpful at all. The pressure is hard to handle."

Pick your own at Heathrow

On the subject of Britishness, Heathrow airport's PR department has emailed to say that free strawberries and cream are being given out to arriving passengers this week at all terminals. Apparently, the initiative "is part of Heathrow's drive to provide passengers with an immediate taste of British sport and culture". Wouldn't a more accurate reflection have been to parade a couple of drunk blokes, moaning?

Storm brewing?

A faulty kettle stuck at boiling point for 30 minutes in a TV studio office here yesterday. Smoke everywhere. Fire alarms went off. Broadcasters could now face a ban on brewing up.

Oh, the irony of Aegon

The SW19 Diary's daily poem today addresses the irony of Aegon job cuts during Wimbledon. The insurance firm is set to cut at least 600 jobs and maybe more among 3,700 British employees.

Ode to Aegon: "So then, Aegon, you've promised £25m to British tennis / and you promise that contract is safe 'til 2013 / 'cos it's done wonders for the Aegon brand, (if not profitability.) / Yes, 600 Brits at least will lose their jobs / But at least our also-ran players will be all right, Jack."