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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 December, 2003, 20:52 GMT
Navratilova given lifetime honour
Martina Navratilova
Age: 47
Singles titles: 167
Doubles titles: 173
(inc. mixed)
Grand Slams: 18 (singles),
40 (doubles inc. mixed)
2003 titles: Nine
(doubles inc. mixed)
World ranking: Six

Multiple Grand Slam winner Martina Navratilova has been honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year show.

The Czech-born American, who won the BBC Overseas Personality Award in 1987, was recognised for a trophy-laden tennis career spanning 30 years.

"It's a great honour," she said, after being presented the award by mixed doubles partner Leander Paes who has recently overcome a serious illness.

"The most amazing thing is Leander being here. It wasn't the icing on the cake, it was the cake."

Paes said: "Sharing the court with her is a true dream. Her skills as an athlete are not one tenth the skills of her as a human being."

Navratilova retired from tennis in 1995, having picked up her 19th Wimbledon title in the mixed doubles.

She left a daunting legacy, winning a record 167 singles titles and an astonishing 329 trophies overall, 140 ahead of her nearest rival.

The Czech-born American also collected a record nine Wimbledon singles titles, but retired one short of Billie Jean King's overall mark of 20 titles.

Having kept herself in peak physical condition, Navratilova was tempted back into action at the age of 44, and this year she has posted yet more records.

At the Australian Open in January, she partnered Leander Paes to the mixed doubles championship, becoming only the third woman to win singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at all four Grand Slam tournaments.

I've got so much inspiration from people to keep on going
Martina Navratilova

At 46 years three months, she also became the oldest person to win a Grand Slam title, wiping out a record set in 1924.

However, Navratilova saved her finest moment for Wimbledon's Centre Court, the scene of many of her most famous victories.

With Paes once more, Navratilova triumphed in the mixed doubles, winning a record-equalling 20th Wimbledon title 27 years after the first.

The achievements did not end there and she collected a further seven titles in the year, five with 18-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova, and joined the elite of women's tennis at the end-of-season championships.

The US Open women's doubles title eluded Navratilova, when she and Kuznetsova lost in the final, a defeat for which the older player took the blame.

"I felt like a little kid, 'Hey, I'm in a grand slam final' - then I played like a little kid," she said.

Navratilova remains as hungry as ever for success and at January's Australian Open, nearing her 50th birthday, she will be targeting a 59th Grand Slam title.

Navratilova equals record
06 Jul 03  |  Wimbledon 2003

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