While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly affecting lower-ranked players the most, tennis legend Martina Navratilova says she also sympathises…
While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly affecting lower-ranked players the most, tennis legend Martina Navratilova says she also sympathises with the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams, who are trying to cement their legacies in the closing stages of their respective careers.
Serena has been chasing an elusive and record-equaling 24th Grand Slam title since returning to the sport as a mother almost three years ago, while Federer is looking to add more majors to his record 20 trophies.
With Wimbledon officially cancelled for 2020, Navratilova believes Serena and Federer – who are both 38 years of age – have missed out on a fantastic opportunity to land more Grand Slam silverware.
“Only war has stopped major tournaments happening, now we have this pandemic and for players like Roger Federer and, of course, Serena Williams, it’s time lost,” Navratilova told Laureus.com. “Particularly Serena, Wimbledon being her best chance to break Margaret Court’s record.
“She’s stuck on 23 and tries to get to 24, maybe 25. It’s an opportunity lost, when you’re not getting any younger. If I was sitting in that position I’d be going nuts that I can’t play.”
Navratilova also lobbed Rafael Nadal’s name into the conversation. The French Open has been postponed until September, but there’s still a chance the tournament won’t be played in 2020 due to international travel restrictions.
Nadal, who is just one slam behind Federer with 19, has won Roland Garros a record 12 times since 2005 and was the overwhelming favourite to add a 13th crown this season – which would have brought him equal with Federer on the all-time count.
Navratilova says the champions of the game must ‘adjust’ in order to increase their slam count when the sport returns.
“Everybody’s in the same boat, but for the old players like Roger and even Rafa Nadal and, particularly, Serena Williams, it’s more difficult, no doubt about it,” Navratilova said. “I sympathise with them, because this is an enemy you can’t rehab, you can’t fight against, you just hope it will go away and we can play next year.
“Novak Djokovic is right behind Roger and Rafa chasing the major titles, but I think the one that’s most affected would be Roger Federer because he’s the eldest by quite a bit. But you have to deal with it. As Billie Jean King said ‘champions adjust’.”