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For Navratilova, the Plan Is to Play 3 or 4 More Years . . .

When Chris Evert actually does retire, whether it’s in December or not, Martina Navratilova said she intends to stay around.

When is Navratilova retiring?

“Not for a while,” she said.

Evert and Navratilova, one of the longest running acts in women’s tennis, have played 80 matches, dating back to 1973, with Navratilova winning 43 times.

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Navratilova, 32, won nine tournaments in 1988, second only to Steffi Graf, who won 11. In three tournaments this year, Navratilova lost to Helena Sukova in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, defeated Lori McNeil for the Pan Pacific Open title in Tokyo, and lost to Natalia Zvereva in the semifinals at the Virginia Slims of Oakland.

Navratilova said she doesn’t think she has changed much in the last five years or so. In fact, she figures on playing for three or four more.

“The only difference I feel now is that my back gets tight,” she said. “It tightens up my hip area and my quads (quadriceps muscles), so I just don’t get down as well as I would like to.”

Navratilova’s sometimes balky knees have forced her to curtail her schedule. The Oakland event was her only indoor tournament, and it looks as if she will avoid all hardcourt events until the U.S. Open.

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“My knees are doing great and all the joints are holding up, so the way my body feels, I feel I could go on forever--if it would stay this way,” she said.

As for playing tournament tennis without Evert, Navratilova said her rival for so long will be dearly missed.

“For 15 years, it’s been both of us,” Navratilova said. “I mean, for 15 years, one or the other was No. 1. That’s never happened before and probably never will again.”


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