Martina Navratilova, among the very successful girls ever to pick up a tennis racket–18 singles, 31 doubles and 10 mixed doubles Grand Slam titles for a beginning–was keeping mum about where she’d put her votes for the ‘Oscars’ of sport, the Laureus World Sports Awards.
But hearing her talk to Laureus.com before this month relating to this year’s clutch of tennis nominees, it absolutely was worth a wild speculation.
Navratilova is an associate of the Laureus Academy–a select group in athletic record books representing the elite –that votes for the excellent performers of the past year and, in regards to tennis, there have been plenty to choose from on the shortlists.
She talked about the girl who has lately overtaken Serena Williams, her own 18 Majors. The 33-year old American star, who has topped the ranks for an unbroken couple of years, is nominated for a record-equalling fourth Laureus Award (Roger Federer is the sole other four-time victor). Williams has won the Sportswoman of the Year statuette as well as the Recovery Award.
Navratilova started by speaking of Williams’ chances of overtaking Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 Grand Slam singles triumphs.
“Serena’s really moved, she is healthy as well as the opposition has not been able to catch up to her. It is a tall mountain to climb, but it is potential, if she remains healthy.
“She managed to be No1 at the end of the year and most of all winning the Australian Open, where she passed Chris [Evert] and myself. Last year perhaps much less great a year as other years, but marching towards history, that is a rather big deal.”
Her focus subsequently turned to the guys’s No1 Novak Djokovic, nominated in the Sportsman of the Year class, which he won in 2012.
“Even though he did not play his best tennis at Wimbledon in the final, he still managed to win it against Federer. Only his work ethic, diligence, his readiness to keep working on his game and keep getting, his preparation is amazing. He deserves that he completed No1.”
Another Laureus Academy member, Boris Becker coachs Djokovic, and Navratilova considers the tie in has paid dividends.
“Of course with Boris’s expertise as a Grand Slam winner, you can not place a price tag on that. At that high degree, there are such little specific allowances between winning and losing.”
The Swiss Davis Cup team, headed by Stan and Federer Wawrinka, are nominated in two groups for reaching Switzerland’s first success in the ‘World Cup’ of tennis: Laureus Team of the Year and Breakthrough of the Year.
And Navratilova had nothing but compliments for Wawrinka in particular: “To be No2 to Roger–where clearly if they do not win the Davis Cup, it’ll be Stan’s mistake, not Roger’s–gets lots of pressure on Stan, but he came through wonderfully.
“It was all set up by Stan winning the  Australian Open. That gave him assurance for the remainder of his profession to understand that when things are going his way, anything can happen, and I think because he’d to be this nervous, it pulled him through in the Davis Cup, also. I am aware I’d have been in that scenario.