Martina goes out with a win

Published September 10, 2006

NEW YORK - Even in her final pro match, Martina Navratilova was eager to get going.

"Any time, darling," she told the chair umpire before he signaled for play to start.

A month shy of her 50th birthday, Navratilova closed out her competitive career Saturday night in fitting fashion: a mixed doubles championship at the U.S. Open for her 59th Grand Slam title.

Navratilova teamed with Bob Bryan to beat Kueta Peschke and Martin Damm 6-2, 6-3 before an appreciative crowd that stood and cheered throughout the final game.

"See, if you play long enough, good things happen," she told the fans. "I should know. It's been quite a run."

Navratilova left the sport in 1994 after winning 167 singles titles. She returned for doubles in 2000, and insisted before this tournament that it would be her last. She won six straight Wimbledon singles titles from 1982-87.

Bryan and Navratilova won $150,000 for this final victory. When they were presented the ceremonial check, Bryan handed it to Navratilova. "All yours," he said.

DOUBLING UP: Leander Paes won his fourth Grand Slam doubles title, teaming with Damm to defeat Jonas Bjorkman and Max Mirnyi 6-7 (5-7), 6-4, 6-3.

Paes, from India, and Damm, from the Czech Republic, were seeded sixth. Damm won his first Slam doubles championship after being runnerup at the 2006 Australian Open and 1993 U.S. Open.

Paes and Damm had only two unforced errors to 15 by their second-seeded opponents.

Bjorkman and Mirnyi defended their French Open championship in June. They've each won U.S. Open doubles titles, playing with different partners.