Today, there is further evidence of Martina Navratilova's greatness on the tennis court.
She won $125,000 during a slump.
"Don't write me off yet," she pronounced after a 6-3, 7-5, 6-4, near-perfectly served victory over Helena Sukova.
"I haven't reached my peak yet."
Those words, following that performance in the final of the $500,000 Virginia Slims Championships, might be the harshest news women's tennis has heard in years.
Navratilova appeared vulnerable here. She had lost three times in four months, most recently two weeks ago, when she admitted she gave up in the last set against Hana Mandlikova.
She was wearing glasses for the first time. She isn't getting any younger; she will be 29 this fall. The young kids, most of them Eastern European proteges, were gaining on her.
What a story for the Big Apple.
As it turns out, what a dud.
"It's all a bunch of baloney," Navratilova said. "You still have to hit the shots."
The world of women's tennis quickly righted itself at Madison Square Garden with Navratilova's demolition of Sukova, a 20-year-old who upset her in the Australian Open last December to end Navratilova's 74-match winning streak.
"Today, she was just too good for me," said Sukova, who lost the tennis equivalent of a 1-0 pitchers' duel.
In each set, Navratilova rode one break of Sukova's serve to victory. The breaks occurred in the fourth game of the first set for a 3-1 lead; in the 11th game of the second set for a 6-5 lead, and in the ninth game of the third set for a 5-4 lead.
Meanwhile, Sukova, one of the strongest hitters in the game, found Navratilova's serve perplexing. Sukova had only one break point in the entire match, that coming in the seventh game of the first set. But her return of serve, which could have won the game, went long, and it was back at deuce. Navratilova won the game moments later on another Sukova return that was long.
"It was unbelievable," Sukova said. "I couldn't break her serve once in three sets. That's pretty bad if you want to win the match."
Navratilova's first serve was in 64.6 percent of the time, which is not particularly overwhelming. But she was pleased with her play off those first serves.
"I just played real solid tennis," Navratilova said. "I think I volleyed better (than she has recently)."
Sukova, whose late mother once coached Navratilova in their native Czechoslovakia, helped Navratilova's cause with her mistakes.
"I wasn't returning well," Sukova said. "She wasn't acing much (four times to Sukova's three), just placing the ball well."
The final of the Virginia Slims Championships is the only time the women play a best-of-five match.
"One reason I didn't lose my serve was that I play better tennis in five sets than in three," Navratilova said.
"I'm not as concerned about every point. We're trying more things, different strategies, because every point is not as important as in a three-set match."
Not that the outcome was much different.
"Really, it was the equivalent of winning a tough three-set match, if she had won one set," Navratilova said.
Navratilova's first service break was as good an indication of how things were going as anything. Sukova, down, 15-40, fought back with an ace and a serve Navratilova hit into the net.
Three times, Sukova held the advantage at deuce, twice with easy putaways at the net, the other time on a backhand return Navratilova netted.
But give Navratilova a little opening and . . . .
Another smash by Sukova, this one as she was backpedaling to the base line, ended up in the net for Navratilova's advantage. Sukova then slammed a volley into the net, and Navratilova had the break.
After it was all over and the 14,966 fans at the Garden had watched Navratilova win her second consecutive Slims Championship, she admitted she was very tired.
"I felt as emotionally drained as I ever have been," Navratilova said, referring to Saturday, when she played five grueling sets: two in a semifinal victory over Mandlikova and three with Pam Shriver in the doubles final, which they won.
Sukova had the same routine, winning her semifinal over Kathy Rinaldi and losing with Claudia Kohde-Kilsch in the doubles.
"I realized she was tired when she was hitting drop shots and drop volleys to try to end the points quicker," Navratilova said.
Navratilova will take the next four weeks off. She leaves for Aspen, Colo., next Wednesday, she said.
"I think I've played 30 singles matches in the last three months," she said. "I've still only lost four matches in the last 18 months or so. I didn't figure I was in a slump."