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Wimbledon icon: Martina Navratilova

It's 17 years since Martina Navratilova called time on her magnificent tennis career but Wimbledon fans will fondly remember the magic she produced in the London Grand Slam tournament.

Navratilova is 66 years old now and only recently announced she had been given the all-clear by doctors in her battle with cancer.

Whether that stops her from attending the grass-court major in the coming fortnight isn't known, but it's to be hoped that she is well enough to travel from her home in the USA to England, if only to hear her own inimitable takes on the big stories that are bound to emanate from the SW19 region of the capital.

What2023 Wimbledon
WhereAll England Club, Wimbledon, London, UK
WhenMonday 3rd July 2023 - Sunday 16th July 2023
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, BBC & Eurosport
OddsIga Swiatek 5/2, Elena Rybakina 15/4, Aryna Sabalenka 5/1, Petra Kvitova 12/1, Coco Gauff 14/1, Ons Jabeur 16/1

Singles domination at the All England Club

Half of Navratilova's 18 Grand Slam singles titles were gleaned at Wimbledon – that haul of nine is a record that still stands – and even the biggest fans of Chris Evert would surely concede that her Czech-born rival was her superior on the nippy lawns.

To put Navratilova's Wimbledon singles tally into some sort of modern-day context, Steffi Graf and Serena Williams each won seven singles titles. Navratilova also finished her career with a total of 177 career titles, which is an Open era record.

Navratilova, born in Prague in 1956, won her first professional singles title in Orlando, Florida in 1974 aged just 17. But she would have to wait another four years before she captured her first Grand Slam singles title, which came at Wimbledon in 1978, when she defeated Evert in three sets in the final, a triumph that saw her attain the world number one ranking for the first time.

Navratilova franked the form of that maiden Wimbledon singles victory when beating Evert in the same final one year later, but this time she bossed her friend and opponent in straight sets.

She failed to dominate on the London lawns in 1980 and 1981, but went on to win the Wimbledon singles title in the following six years, from 1982 to 1987, when three of her final victories were against Evert.

In 1988 and 1989 Navratilova had to play second fiddle to the superb German Steffi Graf but the Czech native added one more for good measure in 1990, when Zina Garrison tried and failed to stop the record-breaking champion. 

That was to be her last grass-court singles crown, although Navratilova famously made the All England Club final in 1994, when she had to give best to Spain's Conchita Martinez in three sets.

The one to beat in doubles on the London lawns too

Grand Slam success came Navratilova's way in doubles before singles. Of her 31 Slam doubles titles, seven were nailed at Wimbledon, the first of which came in 1976 when she partnered Evert to defeat Billie Jean King and Betty Stove.

After losing in the 1977 final when partnering Stove, Navratilova had to wait until 1979 for her second Wimbledon doubles crown, when she and partner King defeated Stove and Wendy Turnbull.

But from 1981 until 1984 Navratilova and Pam Shriver won four All England Club titles on the spin, all in straight sets.

In 1985 the duo were upended by Kathy Jordan and Liz Smylie, but one year later Navratilova and Shriver were back in the ascendancy in London, thanks to a final victory over Hana Mandlikova and Turnbull. That would prove to be Navratilova's last women's doubles final appearance at the All England Club.

Final appraisal

After dominating women's tennis in the 1970s and 1980s, Navratilova's final haul of major titles closed at 59 – she collected 10 mixed doubles triumphs at Grand Slam level too – and that final make-up remains the most in the Open era.

She was ranked world number one for a total of 332 weeks in her singles career, which was second only to Graf, and for 237 weeks in doubles, a record which still stands.

Her career yielded a total of 167 singles and 177 doubles titles, both of which are Open era records too.

In 1983 she won 86 of her 87 singles matches, which afforded her a record win-loss percentage of 98.8, while she can also lay claim to having the longest all-surface streak of match wins with a run of 74.

And to cap it all off, she won her last major trophy at the 2006 US Open in the mixed doubles when teaming up with American pairs ace Bob Bryan.

But it's at Wimbledon where she is perhaps most fondly remembered and her tally of nine singles titles in the London Slam still stands proud at the top of the pile.

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