Wimbledon finally embraced Martina Navratilova during her last hurrah | Tumaini Carayol

by Theguardian

Tennis

Steffi Graf was dominant and Monica Seles was emerging, but in 1990 SW19’s greatest champion won the final grand slam of her illustrious singles career and the hearts of the crowd

As the 1989 season rounded into May, the best female players in the world descended on Roland Garros in distinct moments of their careers. Chris Evert was touring the world as a professional for one last time. Steffi Graf was eviscerating everything in view, having bullied her rivals to six successive slam victories. Others, such as Arantxa Sánchez Vicario and Monica Seles, stood eagerly on the periphery as they awaited their time in the spotlight.

One person was missing. A few weeks earlier, Martina Navratilova had lost on the green clay of Amelia Island in Florida and she departed the court burned out and wondering about what remained of her career. She decided the resolution was to recuse herself from the French Open. At 32, her priorities had shifted and only one remained – she would do everything in her power to win her ninth Wimbledon singles title.

Related: The greatest: Martina Navratilova – an enduring champion brave enough to be herself | Emma John

Related: The greatest? Memory can play tricks but it's still Serena Williams for me | Kevin Mitchell

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