Martina, Jana Collect More Silverware
Published July 05, 2010 12:00
LONDON, United Kingdom - The participation of 29-year-old 'Spice Girls' Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova stole the early headlines - and required the All England Club to waive its '35 and over' rule - but in the end two more seasoned pros, Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna, cleaned up at Wimbledon's Ladies' Invitational Doubles event.
Sunday's final, which was played before a packed No.1 Court, saw Navratilova and Novotna beat Tracy Austin and Kathy Rinaldi Stunkel, both former Wimbledon singles semifinalists. Although the all-American runners-up, better known for their baseline exploits in the 1980s, retrieved an early break early in the first set, they were outgunned by the more celebrated volleyers, 75 60.
The day before, Austin and Rinaldi Stunkel had surprised Hingis and Kournikova, 75 76(4), to complete a clean sweep of their Group A Round Robin, having already beaten British duo Anne Hobbs and Samantha Smith, and Helena Sukova and Andrea Temesvari.
Speaking on the BBC later, Austin revealed an ever-cheeky Hingis had told her at the net: "I hope I play as well as you when I'm your age."
Novotna and Navratilova, who finished radiation therapy as part of her treatment for breast cancer just two weeks ago, also enjoyed an unbeaten run to the final. They defeated fellow Group B teams Annabel Croft and Magdalena Maleeva, Ilana Kloss and Rosalyn Nideffer, and 1994 Wimbledon champion Conchita Martínez and 1998 runner-up Nathalie Tauziat.
The fan-friendly format attracted arguably its best field ever, with Grand Slam singles champions in Navratilova, Hingis, Austin, Novotna and Martínez, and major doubles titlists in Fairbank-Nideffer, Kloss, Kournikova, Sukova and Temesvari, who won the French Open with Navratilova in 1986.