Roland Garros

Hana Mandlikova is the most resistant player to Navratilova‘s Grand Slam

Hana Mandlikova became the first player to reach the semifinals of the French Open tennis championships with a 6-1, 6-4 victory today over 16-year-old American amateur Melissa Brown.

Hana Mandlikova, Roland Garros, DR

Mandlikova, who won the championship in 1981, had trailed 2-3 in the second set when play was abandoned Monday. But she took only 20 minutes to wrap up the victory when the match resumed, breaking Brown for a 5-4 lead and then holding serve.

Martina Navratilova, Hana Mandlikova, Roland Garros, DR

Extracts from the book “HANA”

At the French Open Martina defeated me 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 by playing some unbelievable shots. She hit the ball with so much power and strength that I was left to feel that she was playing tennis beyond the reach of any other woman in the world, she could play the ball from behind her and hit winners with a flick of her wrist. Even as a young girl growing up in Prague she was a tomboy and much stronger than any of her contemporaries.

Nevertheless, on that afternoon in Paris I was intimidated – and no other word will do – by Martina. After the match I went to the locker room and told my mother and father that I was going to inform the press that I thought Martina played like a man. Betty warned me not to do anything of the sort, explaining, ‘You will hurt yourself for the future.’

I had something on my mind and I wanted to express it. That’s the way I am, if I believe strongly about something no one can make me change my opinion. Perhaps, at that time, other players and critics alike had felt that Martina had taken women’s tennis into an area where it had never been before. It was typical of me, against sound advice, to be the one who had to raise the subject in public.

One miscalculation that my father recognizes he made in my education was he brought me up to tell the truth. He is such a honest man that he could never teach me otherwise. Yet, he now accepts that I have got hurt so many times because of my own honesty and he admits that it was a mistake not to have taught me that there are times to be a little bit diplomatic, to be what politicians would call ‘economic with the truth’.

Diplomacy, I confess, is not one of my strong points and I will create unnecessary trouble for myself until I learn that sometimes you can soften the facts without sacrificing your integrity.

To make matters worse in Paris, I had to play against Martina in the women’s doubles the day after I gave my fateful Press conference. It was noticeable that Martina spent a great deal of time talking to her partner, Pam Shriver, so that she did not have to look me in the eye. I know I couldn’t look her in the face, as I felt so remorseful for what I had said.

I didn’t want to be on that court against her, that’s for sure. Yet, I compounded the incident further by making He-man signs to the crowd, flexing my biceps in Martina’s direction to imply she was Superwoman. What do I say about that? Only that it was foolish and immature behaviour and something that I am not proud about.

“Hana” by Hana Mandlikova with Malcolm Folley, Ed. Arthur Barker, London 1989