Martina Navratilova says tennis is in safe hands with Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff


18-time Grand Slam winner Martina Navratilova has stressed that tennis is in good hands, with the modern-day field as competitive as ever before.

In a conversation with former rival Chris Evert, Navratilova said there is a strong and diverse women’s tour at the moment, with new tournament winners on a regular basis.

The 9-time Wimbledon champion also stressed that there were hardly any role models when she first started out playing, but that there are now some inspirational talents who have taken next to no time to make their mark on the sport.

“The women that are making headlines [and] becoming household names like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka, [are doing so] much quicker than when we first started,” Navratilova said.

Indeed, both of these players have already established themselves as global superstars and will only continue to improve.

Osaka is a four-time major winner and has been in imperious form of late. Having won the 2020 US Open and this year’s Australian Open, she became the first woman since Maria Sharapova to have won four Grand Slam titles.

Further to this, the 23-year-old has gained significant recognition as an activist, having frequently shown her support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which saw her named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2020.

Though Gauff may not have enjoyed the same degree of success as Osaka so far in her career, she has emerged as an equally renowned figure. Still only 17, she is the youngest player ranked in the top 100 and famously beat Venus Williams at Wimbledon when she was just 15-years-old.

Navratilova also stressed that these new stars have taken the game to countries where tennis was not widely known before:

“The reach is that much bigger,” she emphasised. “I’m just so proud that we’re a part of it and now we’re passing it on to some very good hands. Keep the torch going.”

Both Osaka and Gauff will be looking ahead to the French Open next month, which gets underway on the 30th of May.

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