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Roger Federer, Serena Williams will be worst affected by the break, says Navratilova

  • Roger Federer and Serena Williams will not find it easy to get back to their best, according to the former No. 1.
  • Serena is one Slam away from Margaret Court's all-time record, and Navratilova believes COVID-19 has robbed her of time.
Rupin Kale
Modified 13 May 2020, 20:18 IST

Martina Navratilova believes that the pandemic-forced break will be the toughest on Roger Federer and Serena Williams
Martina Navratilova believes that the pandemic-forced break will be the toughest on Roger Federer and Serena Williams

Martina Navratilova, widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, spoke yesterday about the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on tennis - especially on the relatively older players like Roger Federer and Serena Williams.

Navratilova, an 18-time Grand Slam champion, said that the break has come at a bad time for the two 38-year-olds. She added that the situation is particularly unfortunate for Serena Williams, who is just one Major title away from equaling the all-time record, .

“Only war has stopped major tournaments happening. Now we have this pandemic and for players like Roger Federer and, of course, Serena Williams, it’s time lost," Navratilova told Laureus.
"Particularly Serena, Wimbledon being her best chance to break Margaret Court’s record. She’s stuck on 23 and tries to get to 24, maybe 25. It’s an opportunity lost, when you’re not getting any younger. If I was sitting in that position I’d be going nuts that I can’t play."

Why Navratilova thinks Roger Federer and Serena Williams are in a tough spot

This is an "opportunity lost" for Serena Williams, says Navratilova
This is an "opportunity lost" for Serena Williams, says Navratilova

The 63-year-old Navratilova believes that while the break will be tough on every player, people like Roger Federer and Serena Williams might find it even more challenging. She also mentioned Rafael Nadal, who at 33 years of age is still five years younger than Serena Williams and Roger Federer.

“Everybody’s in the same boat, but for the old players like Roger and even Rafa Nadal and, particularly, Serena Williams, it’s more difficult, no doubt about it," Navratilova said. "I sympathise with them, because this is an enemy you can’t rehab, you can’t fight against, you just hope it will go away and we can play next year."

However, Serena Williams recently revealed that the break has been great for her physical and mental health. The American added that she feels "better than ever" at the moment.

Meanwhile World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, with 17 Grand Slams, is hot at the heels of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer (who have 19 and 20 Majors respectively). Their race to the GOAT title has also been halted due to the coronavirus-enforced suspension, and Navratilova believes that coming back from the break will be toughest for Federer.

“Novak Djokovic is right behind Roger and Rafa chasing the Major titles, but I think the one that’s most affected would be Roger Federer because he’s the eldest by quite a bit. But you have to deal with it. As Billie Jean King said, ‘champions adjust’.

Navratilova also reflected on her career and Wimbledon, expressing gratitude for being able to play at the biggest stages of the sport.

“Just to be there, just to ground yourself. Boris (Becker), particularly, and myself, have always had a love affair with Wimbledon and I think the fans know it. Wimbledon transcends tennis and transcends sport. 
“At these times, I think it also makes us realize how much sport is a luxury and we were so lucky that we were actually playing it for a living, but everybody misses it, it’s still such a big part of the fabric of our lives."

Published 13 May 2020, 20:18 IST
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