Cool write up of Martina's Fed Cup experience when she went back to play against Czechoslovakia.
“In that Fed Cup tie they had us playing our first match on an outside court [against China] when we should have been on centre. The people were going nuts because they couldn’t see us and were standing three or four deep. Zina Garrison won the first match and I won the second. The next day the Czech sports paper carried a long interview with Chris and mentioned Zina’s victory and at the bottom it read, “and the player from the United States won the other match”.
Before the competition was over, even the umpires were ordered not to introduce Navratilova by name, but say, “On my left the woman player from the United States”.
Navratilova continued: “They had secret police following me around everywhere. I stayed at my parents’ house about 30 minutes outside Prague and the police would stand at the bottom of the block about 100 yards away, watching my every move - and I’m like offering them tea, it was bizarre really.”
In the final, after Evert-Lloyd had won a close encounter against Helena Sukova, the crowd started off by supporting their new heroine Hana Mandlikova against Navratilova. But once Navratilova had taken the first set – 7-5 – there was never much doubt about who would win or who the Czech crowd really wanted to win. The support for “the American” grew to fever-pitch by the finish, and when Navratilova hit the winning shot she turned to look up to the VIP area where Lubmir Strougal, the Czechoslovak prime minister, and his associates were seated - although not for much longer.
“I thought to myself, ‘See what you did’. I didn’t want to leave but you forced me into it, forced me into exile. It was a bitter-sweet moment, but I didn’t feel guilty. The competition had transcended sport. It ended, I guess, the way it should have ended, but I kept thinking, ‘What a waste. It could have been such a happy occasion - for everybody’.”
Martina's a badass motherfucker, y'all. I bet she even has the wallet to prove it.
Total aside -- Can we go back to having a one week 32 team Federation Cup competition? That'd be so fucking awesome.