Navratilova, Seles play tonight

Martina Navratilova and Monica Seles, two tennis legends with much Houston history between them, will square off not before 7:30 tonight in the biggest women’s match at River Oaks since just after the dawn of the sport’s Open Era.

Neither has ever played at the club, which has held a men’s tournament since 1931 but last hosted a women’s event in 1969, when the great Australian Margaret Court won the title. However, Seles and Navratilova combined to claim nine WTA tournament championships between them at other local venues between 1976 and 1992.

Navratilova, 50, retired for a second time last fall after winning the U.S. Open mixed doubles with Bob Bryan. Seles, 33, hasn’t participated in a sanctioned event since Roland Garros in 2003 because of chronic foot problems. She plans to use the exhibition as a step toward making a decision as to whether she’ll attempt to play again.

Navratilova won six of the 10 Houston women’s tour events she entered, including four in a row from 1976 through 1979. Seles’ first of 53 professional titles was claimed at Westside at Chris Evert’s expense in 1989.

Grandstand tickets, priced at $50 each, are still available.