Friday, May 14, 2004

Navratilova heads to French Open

47-year-old ex-champ will play singles

The Associated Press

PARIS - Martina Navratilova will play at the French Open, a decade after her last Grand Slam singles match.

Navratilova, 47, received a wild card for the clay-court major she last won 20 years ago, tournament spokesman Christophe Proust said Thursday.

Another past champion, Monica Seles, pulled out of the event, which would have been her first in a year.

Navratilova has said she will retire from all competitive tennis at the end of 2004. She requested the wild card Wednesday.

"What is there to be afraid of? Losing? We're playing tennis; it's not like I'm getting into a ring with Mike Tyson. Then I'd be afraid," Navratilova said after playing a doubles match at the Italian Open.

Navratilova last played singles at the French Open in 1994, losing in the first round. Her last Grand Slam singles match came later that year at Wimbledon, where she made the final.

She won the French Open in 1982 and 1984, part of her collection of 18 major singles championships.

The French Open starts May 24. On Wednesday, organizers announced second-ranked Kim Clijsters, runner-up in 2001 and 2003, withdrew with a left wrist injury.

Navratilova plans to play women's and mixed doubles at Roland Garros, too, saying, "We'll see how it goes. I'll be ready to play two matches in a day if I have to."

Jennifer Capriati, who won the 2001 title at Roland Garros, said playing Navratilova would be like "deja vu a little bit."

Meanwhile, Seles is recovering from a lingering left foot injury and hasn't played a competitive match since losing in the first round at the 2003 French Open.

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