IN an international tennis icon’s career the only calls that mattered were line calls.
But Martina Navratilova swapped judgement calls for telephone calls as she paid a visit to a Gemini call centre.
The world’s greatest tennis player called in at BT’s call centre on Europa Boulevard last Thursday as part of a national tour for the telecom company as part of her role as a BT ambassador.
And her star power had already proved a boost to staff as she helped sign up customers to broadband and TV packages.
Martina said: “Everybody has been welcoming, it’s been a really nice experience and seeing the people that make it all happen.
“We are the carrots and these people make it all.
“I talked to a guy named Duncan although I couldn’t understand him very well with his accent.
“Two days ago I was on the phone to a woman and she didn’t watch tennis but I apparently persuaded her to stay with the sport channel.”
Martina was also there to add her backing to the Supporters’ Club, which has raised £2.1 million to help disadvantaged children through sport.
“The charity is fantastic,” added Martina. “I do similar work with another charity. They have raised over £2 million in less than a year.
“I think it’s going to be a huge fundraiser and people can chose to donate £1, £3 or £5 a month with their BT contribution and half is spent in the UK and other half goes to programmes across the world.
“It’s about getting kids off their bums and on to physical exercise, whether that’s tennis or football or another sport.
“Kids are spending a lot more time playing on the computer than they do outside, it’s a real shame.”
But on her tour of the UK Martina was pleased to see there was still an appetite for tennis in this country.
She added: “I went to play tennis in Sheffield last night.
“There were three or four courts and it was full of kids playing and it was raining and they were still there playing. Clearly attitude is not a problem but I have spoken to people who say there are requirements - at 12 they are playing 24 tournaments a year to get a ranking.
“That’s insane asking kids to play that many tournaments.
“I wouldn’t have survived as I wasn’t great until 14.
“It’s about getting kids involved and excited. Tennis is a tough game to conquer.
“The potential is here, the opportunities are pretty good and the work ethic is good as well. The system itself isn’t set up in a good way to foster success.”