© Ella Ling

Stars and Stripes

New York diary: NYPD versus Martina Navratilova


Martina Navratilova must be one of the most recognisable sports stars in the world but in New York, it seems your reputation and your fame will only get you so far. The Czech-born American won 18 grand slam singles titles and a massive total of 59 in all, including women’s doubles and mixed, but when it comes to the NYPD, if she was trying to go into an area the police don’t want you to go to, it probably wouldn’t matter if she was Michelle Obama.

Navratilova tweeted on Thursday about her journey to work, as a commentator for the Tennis Channel. “Took a taxi with Rennae(Stubbs) to the Open and the policeman would not let us get dropped off where we needed to go. (He) would not look at the pass. Threatened to put me in jail if I didn’t get back in the taxi. I said ‘what is your name?’ so I can tell somebody. He said tell everyone! Nice :)”

For a country that calls itself the land of the free, the United States has an awful lot of rules and even more people who would rather uphold them than use a little common sense. Let’s hope they didn’t make Martina late for her shift.


Kim Clijsters was back on court in New York on Thursday, less than 24 hours after her singles career was ended by an outstanding performance from Britain’s Laura Robson, who is beginning to fulfil the promise she has been showing for many years now. The 18-year-old Robson has a bundle of talent and her win was a major step forward in her progression.

Clijsters’ press conference began with a little clap of her hands and a quick “last time”, and then the ever-popular Belgian was as honest and open as ever as she discussed what it felt like to be saying goodbye, this time for good, to a sport she had played for the last 20 years. One of the most interesting moments came when she was asked what she was looking forward to about retirement. She said it would be not having to say no to her daughter, Jada, when she wanted to go out for a walk with her Mum.

When I ran into Clijsters at the Olympics, before the tennis began, she told me that she would not be going to the opening ceremony because it was “too much time on her feet”. I heard British cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, the six-time gold medallist, talk about the same thing in terms of going to the supermarket. This attention to detail, to doing everything they possibly can to stay physically fresh, is one of the things that sets top athletes apart. Now Clijsters will have all the time to go for walks that she wants. She will be missed on the Tour but she has been such a genuine and warm person to anyone and everyone, not to mention a great player, that she deserves every success and happiness. And a walk or two with her family.