Wed, Apr 07, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Martina Navratilova wants to inspire

AP , AMELIA ISLAND, FLORIDA

Martina Navratilova doesn't plan to add to her career record of 167 singles titles -- the most by any man or woman.

But if playing singles keeps inspiring others to do more with their lives, she'll continue to request wild-card entries into tournaments for singles competition.

Navratilova is making her first singles appearance in the US in more than 10 years in this week's Bausch & Lomb Championships, a Tier II event she won three times during the 1980s -- including the tournament's first title 25 years ago.

She doesn't plan on becoming the event's first four-time winner, insisting she's entered as a wild card for other reasons.

"It's just nice to know, that because I'm still doing things out there that I probably shouldn't be doing and acting like a kid, that I'm inspiring people to do more with their life," said the 47-year-old winner of 18 singles and 31 doubles Grand Slam events. "That's what I've been getting back. I'm getting such great response, it's really kept me going.

"If you can make a difference in people's life because you hit a little yellow fuzzy tennis ball over the net, that's pretty amazing."

Navratilova has not played singles in this country since 1994. She played in Eastbourne, England, two years ago, but that was only because she lost a bet with her trainer. Navratilova defeated Tatiana Panova in one of two matches to become the oldest player to win a WTA Tour singles match (45 years, eight months).

Navratilova has won more than US$20 million in her career.

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