Navratilova ends career with championship

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Martina Navratilova closed out her competitive career on Saturday in fitting fashion.

Updated: February 25, 2007 11:36 IST
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New York:

A month shy of her 50th birthday, Martina Navratilova closed out her competitive career on Saturday in fitting fashion: a mixed doubles championship at the US Open for her 59th Grand Slam title. Navratilova teamed with American Bob Bryan to beat Kueta Peschke and Martin Damm 6-2, 6-3 before an appreciative crowd that stood and cheered throughout the final game. "See, if you play long enough, good things happen,'' she told the fans. "I should know.'' "It's been quite a run,'' she said. Even after playing for over a generation, Martina Navratilova's enthusiasm and motivation to play tennis remained as strong as ever. The US Open title is her 16th victory overall at Flushing Meadows. She has also won four singles and nine doubles titles here. Tennis' greats Over the years, Navratilova has had several intense rivalries her first was with Chris Evert Lloyd, who she beat to win her first US Open in 1983. In a contest lasting about 15 years, Navratilova beat Evert Lloyd 43 times, losing on 35 occasions. She went on to win six straight Wimbledon singles titles from 1982-87. Her next rival was against Steffi Graf, who beat her in 1989 for the second year running at Wimbledon. As Navratilova's singles career started to wane, Graf became the new bearer of the mantle in women's tennis. But the very next year Navratilova bounced back to beat Zina Garrison Jackson and win her 18th and last singles grand slam title. And she went on to win five more mixed doubles titles including the 2003 Wimbledon with Leander Paes. In over three decades she has won 167 singles as well as 177 doubles titles, which include 59 Grand Slams; a record for men or women players. Hall of fame Navratilova left the sport in 1994 after winning 167 singles titles. She returned for doubles in 2000, and insisted before this tournament that it would be her last. Her winning kitty includes nine Wimbledon Singles titles. Not surprisingly, she was inducted into the hall of fame in 2000, leaving very little else for her to achieve in the world of tennis. "I am quitting because I want to, not because I need to or because I have to. I want to. Tennis is such a great life. It has given me such a great life, but I'm ready to move on. I still will stay in tennis and refocus my efforts elsewhere, but I was just ready to go," she said. What will be truly weird though, is imagining competitive tennis without Navratilova. The legend has given tennis fans the world over moments on the court that will stay with them for a lifetime.

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