BBC SPORT Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX    SEARCH 

BBC Sport
 You are in: Special Events: 2001: French Open  
Sport Front Page
-------------------
Football
Cricket
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Tennis
Golf
Motorsport
Boxing
Athletics
Other Sports
-------------------
Special Events
-------------------
Sports Talk
-------------------
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
-------------------
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
-------------------
Around The UK: 
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS

  Saturday, 20 July, 2002, 19:09 GMT 20:09 UK
Legends in last-chance saloon
Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert
Navratilova (l) was runner-up in the 1986 French Open
BBC Sport Online's Sophie Brown looks at two all-time greats in the women's game who are hoping for a last hurrah at the French Open.

If the will of the public were the deciding factor at this year's French Open, Monica Seles would win the women's singles with Martina Navratilova sweeping to triumph in the doubles.

These two veterans of the women's game will come to Paris with a lot of popular support but both will know that their desire for one more Grand Slam title is unlikely to prove enough.

Although from different generations, their careers have thrown up many parallels, even down to the dodgy dyed blonde hairdos that both have sported in the past.

Both are ferociously competitive left-handers who at one point in their careers reigned supreme in women's tennis.

Both grew up in eastern Europe before becoming naturalised US citizens.

Monica Seles embraces Martina Navratilova
Seles played her comeback match against Naratilova

Both have endured their fair share of bad press earlier in their careers - Navratilova for being open about her homosexuality and for her outspoken views, Seles for her on-court grunting and her giggly affectations at press conferences around the world.

But both are now adored by the public - Navratilova because she played on and on despite losing her invincibility and Seles because she came back after being stabbed on court in Berlin in 1993.

There were doubts as to whether Seles would ever play again after the horrific incident in Germany but when she did return two years later, it was against Navratilova that she chose to play her first match, an exhibition event in the United States.

French highs and lows

Navratilova's relationship with the French Open has had its ups and downs.

It was the first Grand Slam she ever played in back in 1973 and she won two singles, seven doubles (including five in a row from 1984-88) and two mixed doubles titles there.

  Navratilova's record at Roland Garros
Singles champion: 1982, 1984
Singles runner-up: 1975, 1985, 1986, 1987
Doubles champion: 1975, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988
Mixed doubles champion: 1974, 1985

But in later years, she began to skip the tournament to prepare for her favourite Grand Slam event, Wimbledon.

Last year, she played in the doubles at Roland Garros with Marian de Swardt, reaching the third round.

And this year, she is back again, an incredible 28 years after her first appearance.

French treble

Monica Seles was not even born when Navratilova first played at Roland Garros but she herself is now an elder stateswoman on the WTA tour.

It is 12 years since she made her French Open debut and nine since she won her last singles title there, her third in a row.

  Seles's record at Roland Garros
Singles champion: 1990, 1991, 1992
Singles runner-up: 1998

That was the time when she dominated the women's game, winning seven out of the nine Grand Slam events leading up to her stabbing in 1993.

But she has never been the same player since her two-year absence from the tour in the mid-1990s.

Although she has been almost ever-present in the top ten since returning to the game and finished last season ranked four, she is no longer feared by rivals and seems to have lost some of her on-court intensity that used to so intimidate her opponents.

Monica Seles
Seles has not enjoyed much success in recent years

The crowd at Roland Garros can be notoriously partisan - in the 1999 women's singles final, they turned against Martina Hingis and seemingly propelled Steffi Graf to an unlikely victory.

Whether they can do the same for Navratilova and Seles is another matter but if either player get their hands on a winner's trophy, there will not be a dry eye in the house.

French Open site

Latest news

Perry in Paris

Clickable guides

French Open flashback

PHOTO GALLERIES

AUDIO/VIDEO

SPORTS TALK

OTHER TENNIS

BBC COVERAGE

INTERNET LINK
Links to more French Open stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more French Open stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales