'If I had to put money on Pete returning I'd say no'

Martina Navratilova-Pic. AFP

Martina Navratilova said she believes seven-times Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras has played his last competitive match. Sampras has not entered an event since beating old rival Andre Agassi to the US Open crown last September.

And Navratilova, speaking at the launch of the Laureus World Sports Awards, thinks Pistol Pete has changed his priorities since becoming a father last November.

"I'd be surprised if Sampras came back but I'm not going to write him off. If I had to put money on Pete returning I'd say no," Navratilova said.

"Once you are settle down with a family it's really hard mentally to get yourself out there every day, especially at his age. When you get older you really have to put in the work every day."

After winning a record fourteenth Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows, 31-year-old Sampras hinted he would retire. But the official line is that he is still training and will announce when he is ready to return to competition. "I'd be surprised to see him but I'm not going to write him off," said Navratilova, who has racked up 18 Grand Slam titles. "If he wants to do it he certainly can but I'm not sure he's going to, want to."

The prospect of an eighth Wimbledon title is probably the one thing luring Sampras, who loves the London grass, away from a retirement announcement. Navratilova, however, says it is not as simple as just turning up and hoping to win, especially after such a long break.

"I think he's enjoying life too much to go back to the grind," she said. "He'll need a month of matches before something like Wimbledon. I think he could win it but the longer you stay away from the game the harder it is to come back and I'm not sure he wants that."