Unhappy About Game Today
Navratilova attempted a singles comeback that month at the Eastbourne grasscourt championships, an annual Wimbledon tuneup. Playing at age 45 in her first tour singles match in eight years, she defeated Tatiana Panova to become the oldest woman to win a WTA match. In the next round she lost to 19-year-old Daniela Hantuchova—both matches went the full three sets. Navratilova also competed in doubles at the January, 2003 Australian Open with Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia. They reached the third round before losing to the Williams sisters, 6-2, 6-3 in a match that lasted barely over an hour. In a sign of changing times in women's tennis, Navratilova, once the prototype of the power game, whom Newark Star-Ledger writer Brad Parks four months earlier said had "arms that could shame most high school football players," found herself overwhelmed.
Many in the media, meanwhile, long for the days of the Martina-Chrissie rivalry. While Navratilova vs. Evert involved a study of so many contrasts, the sister duels of today's Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, is an all-in the-family affair. "Tennis stadiums fill with groans now, whenever the Williams sisters engage in their methodical marches through opposite ends of Grand Slam tournament brackets," Mike Vaccaro write in the Newark Star-Ledger while covering the 2002 U.S. Open. "This
is why fans feel so numb, and why they instantly throw their support around anyone with a different surname.
"You'll never hear Venus say of Serena, 'I'll follow that sonofagun to the ends of the earth,' the way Jimmy Connors once vowed to hunt down Bjorn Borg," Vaccaro added. "You will surely never see the ice-cold contempt that used to cleave John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl, or even the sweet cold wars that Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert used to wage regularly."
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