It was a tale of two Martinas for Leander Paes at the Australian Open. Even as he won his 15th Grand Slam with Martina Hingis, he believes the presence of his “lucky charm” Martina Navratilova played a part in his success.
Martina Navratilova with Leander Paes
“We were up 3-0 in the first set, and then it was 3-3 when she (Navratilova) walked in,” said Paes, of the Australian Open mixed doubles final, during a media interaction in Mumbai earlier this week. “I told Hingis my lucky charm just walked in. I think the game was won right then; went through the two sets straight through,” he said. Paes and Hingis defeated third seeds Daniel Nestor and Kristina Mladenovic 6-4, 6-3 in the final on Sunday to win the title without dropping a set.
“Navratilova and myself have been through medical adversities together,” the 41-year-old continued. “She was my 9 pm phone call every single day when I was at the MD Anderson centre (when he was diagnosed with a non-malignant brain cyst in 2003).
“She was diagnosed with breast cancer (in 2010). When I met her in Paris, I got permission from her doctor to take her out for dinner. During that dinner, at our favourite Indian restaurant in Paris, she kept on looking at my cross. I had designed it in 2006 when I won the US Open the first time, when Aiyana (Paes’ daughter) was there. When she looked at it, I just felt there was a lot of energy about it and we shared it. I put that cross on her neck and six weeks later she walked out of the cancer research centre in Paris. Then she went to try and climb Mount Kilimanjaro!”
The Paes-Navratilova combine had won the Australian Open mixed doubles in 2003.