The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Martina looks forward to reunion

New York: Martina Navratilova was overjoyed to learn her friend and mixed doubles partner Leander Paes does not have a brain tumour and cannot wait to resume their Grand Slam title-winning partnership.

The 46-year-old legend was stunned when Paes was hospitalised on August 17 with a brain lesion. MRI exams and blood tests to find the cause revealed he suffered from an infection, neurocysticercosis, and not a cancerous tumour.

“Fantastic relief,” Navratilova said on Thursday. “I was devastated for a few days. It brings things into perspective. We worry about break points and pulled hamstrings and here he is with the possibility of dying within a short time.

“That was an eye opener for everybody in the tennis world.”

Paes and Navratilova, 46, won this year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon mixed doubles crowns. Because Paes was unable to play here at the US Open, Navratilova decided she would compete only in women’s doubles. “I didn’t want to play in case it was something serious. It was just a situation that needed some pause,” Navratilova said.

“I told him that whenever he comes back that we will play again. Whenever he decides to play again, I’ll be playing. Hopefully it will be Australia.”

Navratilova won her record-tying 20th championship at Wimbledon and raised her total of career Slam crowns to 58 — 18 singles and 31 doubles plus nine in mixed doubles.

“The concern from the players has been fantastic, everybody wanting to know how he is doing,” Navratilova said. “Everybody’s happy with the situation. This was the best-case scenario.

“He told me all the different possibilities. I said, ‘we will keep our fingers crossed for a bacteria.’ That’s what it was.”

While Navratilova looks forward to rejoining Paes on the court, she was clear that she does not plan to play beyond next year. “I definitely will not be playing 2005 and 2004, I haven’t decided yet,” she said. “That’s pretty much in the air still. There’s a possibility I’ll play next year. I’ll see. It’s a grind. I’m on the road more than I thought I’d be.”

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