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Navratilova Calls Loss a Success

April 15, 2001

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. (AP) _ Martina Navratilova’s successful run in the Bausch & Lomb Championships ended with a loss in the doubles final Sunday.

Navratilova and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario fell 6-4, 6-2 to Conchita Martinez and Patricia Tarabini in a match played before a crowded house that doesn’t normally show such an interest in doubles.

The 44-year-old champion, who returned to play a limited doubles schedule last year, said her week was a success even though it ended one win short of her 166th doubles title.

But the success hasn’t made her start thinking about a possible return to the singles circuit, where she has a record 167 titles.

``Physically, I think I’m OK,″ she said. ``Mentally, I’d have to take it to another level, and I don’t want to go there. That’s when it starts to be work, and I’m having too much fun. I still want to fly my airplane, play hockey, spend time with my loved ones, and you can’t do that when you’re playing singles.″

Navratilova didn’t look too sharp in her first final since returning last summer after a four-year layoff. Nevertheless, she was the fan favorite, signing dozens of autographs as she walked off, the $7,000 runners-up check folded in her hand.

``I’ve had so many people _ women in their 40s and 50s _ coming up to me and saying, ’Can I touch you?‴ Navratilova said. ``It’s like they’re hoping something will rub off. It’s not touching someone famous, it’s touching someone who’s doing something special.″

Navratilova plans to play about 10 events this year, all with Sanchez-Vicario. ``I think we can be contenders for any event,″ she said.

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