Beg to differ, Martina. "Plenty are capable of winning this tournament," Navratilova said. But three of the top 16 women's seeds were upset at Wimbledon today, and Tracy Austin won when she'd have rested her moaning body if this were, say, the South Succotash Classic.
Meanwhile, Navratilova kept on being invincible with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Beth Norton.
Now winner of 21 straight matches and a loser only once in her last 50, the top-seeded Navratilova seems a certain finalist for the 19th straight tournament. Only the most stubborn dissenters--defending champion Chris Evert Lloyd, for one--figure Navratilova will not win her 14th title in a streak that has certified her as a graceful, gutsy, powerfully athletic player who has put her American-blond head high above the crowd.
"They have to make the spectacular shot, not me," she said in an unwitting, undeniable announcement of greatness not much removed from today's cock-of-the-walk pronouncement by Jimmy Connors, who said, "They'll have to hit the ball well to beat me."
Connors, three times runner-up at Wimbledon since winning in 1974 and second-seeded to John McEnroe in Bjorn Borg's absence, so impressed John Alexander in a four-set victory that the Australian said, "If Connors' form holds, I would definitely pick him to win. McEnroe's form is not at his best, and Connors' is."
The most forgettable men's fourth seed here in a long time, Sandy Mayer, beat Colin Dowdeswell in straight sets. And seventh-seeded Mats Wilander, the Borg look- play-alike, came down a notch in quality from his Centre Court debut but crushed Nduka Odizor quickly (1 hour 44 minutes).
Of seeded women, these were winners: Austin (No. 3), Andrea Jaeger (4), Wendy Turnbull (6) and Pam Shriver (7).
No seeded men lost on the first of Wimbledon's four days to go without rain, but gone now are four of the big-shot women, including former champions Evonne Goolagong Cawley and British heroine Virginia Wade.
Gone is the flighty Hana Mandlikova, often magnificent and sometimes mediocre, who was the No. 5 seed after reaching the final with Evert last year. Mandlikova lost today to Candy Reynolds, a strong server who said her 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 victory "wasn't that much of an upset, because I had no doubt I could win . . . Her inconsistency gives an opponent confidence, rather than facing someone like Martina."
Also gone are eighth-seeded Mima Jausovec, who lost to JoAnne Russell (7-5 in the third set), and the 16th-seeded Goolagong, who lost to Zina Garrison in straight sets. Wade, unseeded, lost in straight sets to Marjorie Blackwood. Also unseeded, six-time champion Billie Jean King made her record 100th singles appearance an easy victory over Claudia Pasquale.
Navratilova, 25, Wimbledon champion in 1978 and '79, was so masterly again today that, looking for fault, she could find only this: "Maybe I could have put her away easier in the second set, but it was okay."
At last fall's U.S. Open, shortly after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, Navratilova caused her hair to go blond in striking departure from the dour brown of her Czech days. "It is the sun," she said with a grin. Thinner by much than in her beginnings on tour (she once wore a flowered print dress that caused a witness to say, "Ah, we're into shower curtains now"), Navratilova yet is an overwhelming power player. And she moves on court with the quickness and lightness of a basketball player (which she is in pickup games with her friend, Nancy Lieberman).
"It was fine," Navratilova said of today's match, so one-sided details are irrelevant. Do you need play-by-play on an avalanche? "My serve is coming along just fine," she said, "and I'm moving fine."
A reporter noticed a large bandage around Navratilova's left wrist and something stuck under the left shoulder of her jacket. "A growth," she said mischievously before pulling out the ice pack applied to her serving shoulder after matches. The wrist bandage contained ice, too. "Just to keep the swelling down. Do you want it to put on your fingers after you finish typing?"
Candy Reynolds was almost as happy as Navratilova. A loser three times in the last year to Mandlikova, Reynolds, 27, survived the pressure moments better than her opponent, 20.
Mandlikova broke Reynolds' serve to pull even at 4-all in the third set. "I kinda smiled, because if somebody plays well, passes you from everywhere, there's not much you can do and that's what Hana did to me then," Reynolds said.
"Then as good as Hana had played, I played that good to break her right back at love." Reynolds closed out the match losing only one point on her serve.
Austin, with an aching left wrist and a pulled groin muscle, beat Alycia Moulton, 6-4, 7-5, and then said, "If it wasn't Wimbledon, I probably wouldn't be here. I should be resting . . . But when I looked at the scoreboard and saw Hana had lost, and I was behind in the first set, I started fighting back."
Connors, too, was good when he needed to be good in defeating Alexander, 6-3, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6. Connors' return of serve, the best in tennis, served him well all day against the hard-hitting Alexander, who last weekend won his first tournament in three years. Connors' backhands were guided missiles finding the corners, and, in case McEnroe was watching, Jimbo slipped in two out-of-character drop shots from the service line.
Down, 5-3, in the fourth set, Alexander held serve with a point gained on a dizzying exchange of volleys at the net that wound up with Connors diving after a ball and then, for laughs, flipping his racket after it.
Alexander broke Connors' serve to come even at 5-all, and only a netted forehand volley in the tie breaker kept the match from going to five sets. The 12,000 customers at Centre Court gave the men an extended round of applause.
"John played well today, because I know I played well," Connors said.
After a first-round victory in which he lost only four games, Connors said he welcomed Alexander's challenge today.
"It put me in a pressure situation," he said. "That'll help later."
By later, of course, he means John McEnroe.