Navratilova wins 20th Wimbledon titlePosted: Sunday July 06, 2003 2:57 PM
Updated: Sunday July 06, 2003 6:49 PM
WIMBLEDON, England (AP) -- Martina Navratilova tied one Wimbledon record Sunday and set another.
Navratilova won her 20th title at the All England Club, teaming with Leander Paes to defeat Andy Ram of Israel and Anastassia Rodionova of Russia 6-3, 6-3. She is now tied with Billie Jean King for the most Wimbledon titles.
The 46-year-old Navratilova also became the oldest Wimbledon champion, supplanting American Margaret duPont, who was 44 in 1962 when she won mixed doubles.
"They're all special, but the last one was eight years ago, and honestly I never thought I'd play here again," Navratilova told the crowd on Centre Court after the victory.
Navratilova nearly had the winning shot in the deciding game, but Rodionova sprawled and got the ball across the net and Paes smashed the winner. He immediately bowed several times to Navratilova, who tipped her head back in relief.
The two embraced and Navratilova did a girlish jump for joy as the 13,800-capacity Centre Court crowd gave her a standing ovation.
"Welcome home, Martina," shouted one fan.
Neither Ram nor Rodionova were born when Navratilova won the first of her nine singles titles in 1978.
Paes drew laughs when he mentioned Navratilova's age. She played her first Wimbledon in 1973.
"For this little kid from India, it was a dream to be on Centre Court," Paes said. "When I was 7 or 8 years old, I watched Martina play, and she really inspired me to be out here."
Paes added: "She said not to say that."
To reach the final, Navratilova and Paes played a semifinal earlier Sunday, defeating Leos Friedl and Liezel Huber 7-5, 6-4.
King has six singles titles, 10 in doubles and four in mixed. Navratilova has nine singles titles, seven in doubles and four in mixed. She wished Navratilova good luck before the match.
Navratilova ranks second in career titles at all the Grand Slam events with 58: 18 in singles, 31 in doubles and nine in mixed doubles. The women's record is 62, held by Margaret Smith Court (24 singles, 19 doubles, 19 mixed).
"I can't think; I can't talk. I feel like Roger Federer a few hours ago," Navratilova said.
The men's champion cried several times after beating Mark Philippoussis earlier Sunday.
Navratilova and Paes broke in the third game of the first set, when Rodionova double-faulted twice. They broke again to take the set 6-3, giving each other a high-five.
Ram was broken in the fourth game of the second set as Navratilova and Paes took a 3-1 lead. The game was interrupted when a cell phone kept ringing in the stands.
Navratilova stood with her hands on her hips and shouted: "Can you turn that off?"
When Navratilova held to take a 5-2 lead, she gave Paes a
friendly punch on the shoulder. Ram won the next game, before Paes
served out at love.