Martina captures 57th Slam title
MELBOURNE, Australia -- At age 46, Martina Navratilova is a Grand Slam champion again.
Navratilova served out the match, teaming with India's Leander Paes to beat Todd Woodbridge and Eleni Daniilidou 6-4, 7-5 Sunday for the Australian Open mixed doubles championship.
It was her first mixed title in the Australian, and completed an impressive cycle -- at least one title each in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at all four major tournaments.
"This goes beyond any wildest dream,'' said Navratilova, who was playing in her first Grand Slam final in almost eight years.
It was her 57th title at a Grand Slam tournament, and eighth in mixed doubles. She also has won 18 singles and 31 doubles, but still trails Australian Margaret Court, who has 62 titles, including 24 singles.
At age 46 years, 3 months, she was a month older than the previous oldest winner at a Grand Slam event, Australian Norman Brookes in the 1924 Australian men's doubles.
Navratilova started the final game with a double fault and then reached match point with a bit of luck.
As she ran back for a lob by Daniilidou, Paes shouted for her to lob. Instead, she hit a low forehand that hit the net cord and skipped over Woodbridge.
She finished with a volley that Daniilidou backhanded into the net.
Paes said he bumped into Navratilova at last year's U.S. Open when he was on the way to the referee's office to get help in finding a partner. They lost in the second round there.
"Now we're hooked up for the rest of the year,'' Navratilova said.
"The support has been amazing,'' she added. "I'm sorry I haven't come back here for such a long time, but I guarantee it won't be another 13 years before I come back again.''
Australia's Woodbridge, who has 18 Grand Slam titles including six in mixed, said, "Martina is amazing.
"I had an opportunity to play with her at Wimbledon. I'm a little disappointed because she didn't play as well then. She says she's still improving, so God help us all,'' he added.
"She's made history today,'' Woodbridge said.
Navratilova won her 56th Grand Slam title in 1995, teaming with Jonathan Stark to win the mixed doubles at Wimbledon. She won the last of her 18 major singles titles in Wimbledon in 1990.
Overall, she has a record 167 WTA Tour singles titles and 166 doubles championships, the most recent with Belarus' Natasha Zvereva last May in Madrid.
In Sunday's final, she still was showing agile net coverage and leaping overheads.
She lost serve three times, but held twice, while her team broke Greece's Daniilidou all five times she served.
The match was interrupted briefly in the second set by six military planes flying overhead in formation as part of Australia Day holiday celebrations. Paes lobbed a ball skyward in mock exasperation.
Navratilova and Paes beat 2002 champions Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe and Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-1 in the semifinals.
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