Sports

Conchita Martínez Learned in 1994 That Grass Was Not Just for Cows


But it didn’t rain after the second day that year, and the conditions were perfect for me because the court was very dry.

The top seed, Steffi Graf, was upset in the first round that year. Did that change the whole feeling of the tournament for everyone else?

I remember that day exactly. It was raining on and off. I was in the city with friends instead of at my rented home near the club. We were watching on TV. But it was too early to say, “Oh, she lost, so it’s a chance for me.” Seven matches in 14 days in a Grand Slam is a lot. But when you lose the most favored to win the tournament, yeah, you all think about it.

You beat Lindsay Davenport in the quarterfinals and then Lori McNeil 10-8 in the third set to reach the final. How bad were your nerves?

At the end, you can’t think of nerves; you just have to play. She was serving and volleying really well. I had to pass her off the backhand, sometimes with the slice and sometimes with topspin. I guess it worked. And against Martina, I had just beaten her in Rome [en route to the title] so that gave me confidence. I just said, “Why not on grass?” I guess I had the right attitude, no?

You came up in a golden age of women’s tennis, with Navratilova and Chris Evert, Graf, Monica Seles, Jennifer Capriati, Davenport, Martina Hingis and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. Now that you see the game as a coach, is this a golden era, too?

There are a lot of players now, so this is a wonderful story. But now players hit with a lot of power from everywhere and not as much variety and thought. [Ashleigh] Barty winning the French was special because she has slice, topspin, she comes to the net, she hits drop shots. So, this is more like my era, no?

You’re one of only a few successful women coaches. Why?

This question has been coming my way for years. We’re starting to see a few more, and hopefully people can see what we bring to the table. The more successful the players are, the more they will talk highly about us, and maybe more players are going to hire women coaches.



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