Novotna gets the looks her way, finally


WIMBLEDON, England -- Jana Novotna's usually serious demeanor cracked. She ran her fingers through her mop of blond hair and smiled.

"I am happy," she said. "I know I have been criticized for lookintoo serious, for being too aggressive, for seeming too cool. I think it is no one's business to judge me. I can't help the way I look."

Novotna, seeming finally to believe that her game is ideallsuited to grass, has a chance to prove it today in the women's semifinals against Martina Navratilova.

Steffi Graf meets Conchita Martinez, who is playing here for onlthe second time, in the other semifinal. The winners will meet Saturday for the 100th women's singles title.

"I think I have been criticized for everything," Novotna said. "Fohow I look, for how I play, for not making progress fast enough.

"But now I am progressing," she said. "This is my best year so far. The most consistent. And I will try to take myself as far as I can in this tournament."

Though she has played in the semifinals of the French Ope(1990) and Australian Open (1991), this is her first semifinal here.

"Finally, I've made it to Centre Court at Wimbledon," she said. "am so excited. I hope I can stay calm and play Martina well. I will try."

In seven matches against Navratilova, Novotna has never wonShe is, in fact, a footnote in Navratilova's record book -- the player Navratilova beat for her record 158th singles title.

Security, what security?

At the end of Boris Becker's match last night, a teen-aged girl vaulted over the courtside wall and made a beeline for the three-time champion. She held out paper and pen, and Becker signed before security guards arrived to escort her off.

L "She was only about 14," Becker said. "It was not a problem."

Bumper crop

The last Grand Slam event to have the top four seeds advance to the semifinals was the 1992 U.S. Open, when No. 1 Jim Courier, No. 2 Stefan Edberg, No. 3 Pete Sampras and No. 4 Michael Chang made it.

Squeezing competitive juices

When a reporter asked Becker about a lack of competitive rivalries in men's tennis, he looked as if to say: Were you watching the matches?

"I think today we had a great example of two Americans and two Germans playing each other and trying to beat the heck out of each other," he said. "We started at 1 o'clock and finished at almost 9 p.m. I think that speaks for itself."



Centre Court Jana Novotna (8), Czech Republic, vs. Martina Navratilova (2), Aspen, Colo.

Steffi Graf (1), Germany, vs. Conchita Martinez (6), Spain.

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