Sports types have a particular aura. It’s not something spiritual, just a definitive sense of who they are. So it is with Martina Navratilova whom I met in Wimbledon – the local cinema, not the All England Club – where she was promoting a new film on ESPN about her long-term friendship with Chris Evert. The paradox of the documentary is great rivals on the court, but off the court they could talk about everything. When you talk to Martina, you encounter a warm, funny and sometimes self-deprecating woman, but also a woman who, bizarrely, doesn’t like to talk about British tennis. Ooh no. Listen at the end of the interview when I broach the subject. Did she “walk out”? Well, she made it very aware that the interview was over and walked away to sign posters and that was it. I didn’t even get a, “Missing you already”. I’m blaming Andy Murray of course.
Putting that aside, the film itself is a departure for a sports doc. It’s focussed on the personal story of these two women. Incredible rivals of the court, but close friends in the locker room. For the record, Martina has the bragging rights in one-to-one contests in grand slams. Here is the Q & A in the cinema, together with my interview. The film goes out in October 2010 in the UK, but sooner in the States. Hannah Storm is chairing the session, and produced the film too.