Martina Navratilova

Great Champions

Longevity was the name of the game for Martina Navratilova at the Australian Open. She made her debut as tournament top seed in 1980, losing to Wendy Turnbull in the semifinal, and played her last doubles matches in Melbourne in 2005, reaching the mixed semifinal with Max Mirnyi and the women's doubles quarterfinal with Daniela Hantuchova.

Having acclimatised to Kooyong's grass courts in 1980, the Czech-born American returned in 1981 to claim her first Australian title over Chris Evert in a match that perfectly showcased their burgeoning rivalry.

The 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 scoreline was, at that stage, the most games played in a women's singles final in the Open Era and the match signalled the start of the pair's five-year timeshare of the title.

Evert reversed the result in the 1982 final but was absent in 1983, raising Navratilova's hopes of an easy passage. British No.1 Jo Durie clearly had other ideas in their quarterfinal, using her big serve to push the world No.1 to the brink of defeat in a rain-delayed match played over two days.

Surviving, Navratilova faced Kathy Jordan in the final, her 6-2 7-6(5) victory her 50th singles win on the bounce. Navratilova also won the doubles title with Pam Shriver in 1983, becoming only the third woman in the Open era (after Court and Goolagong Cawley) to do the Australian Open double.

The 28-year-old rounded off a hat trick of Australian Open singles titles in 1985, again battling Evert for honours in a 6-2 4-6 6-2 thriller and, while her Australian Open singles tally stopped there, she also amassed eight women's doubles titles (all but the first, in 1980, with Shriver), and one mixed doubles title (with Leander Paes in 2003).

Her final singles appearance, a quarterfinal loss to Helena Sukova in 1989, was only her seventh defeat at the tournament at which she had won a total of 45 singles matches.

Having acclimatised to Kooyong's grass courts in 1980, the Czech-born American returned in 1981 to claim her first Australian title over Chris Evert in a match that perfectly showcased their burgeoning rivalry.