NEW YORK -- So stunning was Sylvia Hanika's victory over Martina Navratilova that the next day the walls came tumbling down.
Not that Hanika is to blame, of course. Indeed, she should be thanked for providing a remarkable and memorable finish to one of the more important championships on the women's tennis calendar.
On Monday, though, Avon Products, sponsor of the 12-week winter circuit for the past four years, announced that it was discontinuing its current involvement in women's tennis.
Almost certainly, it also brings an end to the winter championship that was in existence since 1972. The Women's Tennis Association said Monday it plans to reorganize and consolidate its schedule for next year, with one primary championship.
'What we're working on will make women's tennis stronger,' said Ana Leaird, public relations director of the WTA, from her office in Deerfield Beach, Fla. 'It will strengthen our tournaments and cut down on the number of tournaments we have to give player commitments to. The top players are asking us to cut back a bit, and we hope to have a circuit to which we won't have to commit players every week.'
Of the last five winter championships, Navratilova won three and was the runnerup twice. As proud an achievement as this has been, she'll look back on the historic final one with a sour taste.
Coming into the championship unbeaten in 24 matches this year, and winner of five consecutive tournaments, Navratilova was an overwhelming favorite. She breezed through her first three matches in less than an hour each, then won eight of the first nine games in Sunday's final against Hanika.
But Hanika, trailing 1-6, 1-3, made her dramatic comeback, winning five games in a row to even the match, then standing firm in the final set when she dropped only two points on five service games.
'I played well and made some good shots,' said Hanika, a 22-year-old West German who earned $100,000 for the first big title of her career. 'I tried to keep the pressure on her side and not get nervous.'
Interestingly, it is because of the progress of players such as Hanika that the WTA will stress to prospective sponsors how critical it is to continue support of the Futures circuit, which was maintained by Avon.
'We would like very much to keep it going,' Leaird said. 'It's an opportunity circuit for a lot of players. It's important to have a feed-in circuit and provide a grass roots level for players to move into the top ranks.'
Navratilova herself gave credit to the Futures circuit for helping in the development of European players. Then, casting an eye toward Hanika, she joked, 'Perhaps there are too many European players here.'
Of the top six women players in the world, only Navratilova, ranked second, played singles in the Madison Square Garden tournament. Some, such as Tracy Austin and Andrea Jaeger, were injured, while No. 1 Chris Evert Lloyd does not play the winter circuit.
This is part of the reason that the WTA would like to streamline its schedule in the future and provide a stronger base to assure all the top players qualifying for a major championship.
'What we would like to do is to consolidate all the circuits into one with one primary sponsor and one primary championship so all the girls will play all year for points that lead up to one championship,' Leaird said.