Melbourne: Leander Paes helped the legendary Martina Navratilova create history as the pair won the mixed doubles title at the Australian Open Sunday.
Twenty nine years after winning her first Grand Slam title, Navratilova swept to her 57th, collecting the only jewel missing from her crown after she and Paes beat Todd Woodbridge and Eleni Daniilidou 6-4, 7-5.
Aged 46 years and three months, she also became the oldest Grand Slam champion in the sport’s history, eclipsing Norman Brookes. “I can’t lie about my age,” she laughed. “Anybody can look it up. I didn’t think I would still be playing at this age... when I was growing up I wanted to be the youngest to win something, not the oldest. But it is pretty sweet to have all of them.
The pair is now committed to playing mixed for the rest of the year at the three remaining Grand Slams.
“We’ll have a good time,” she grinned, revelling in victory.
Paes, for whom this was his second mixed doubles Grand Slam, said playing alongside Navratilova had rejuvenated his spirits. “I’m going to be 30 this year and I thought I was getting old. You know, Martina has kind of rejuvenated me, rejuvenated my spirit for the game,” Paes said.
“I grew up, my whole childhood, watching Martina play, create history winning those many Wimbledon titles. I never thought I’d play on the same side of the net as her. It’s a real treat to play with her. Her zest for life, her passion for the game is mind-boggling.”
Defying the ravages of time, Andre Agassi raced to a landmark fourth Australian Open crown thrashing Rainer Schuettler to become the oldest Grand Slam champion for 31 years.
The 32-year-old’s 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 victory equals the most one-sided final in the event’s 98-year history and gives him an eighth Grand Slam title. “For me the whole year is a total success now”, he said.