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Martina Navratilova

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Martina Navratilova © Annie Leibovitz

Czech-born American:

Martina Navratilova was born on October 18, 1956 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. She first came to the United States in 1973 and in 1975 she played her first US Open and received her Green Card. On July 21, 1981 Martina became an American citizen.

Martina vs Chris:

A long rivalry formed between Martina and US tennis sweetheart Chris Everet. For more than 10 years, beginning in 1973, the two met more than 80 times. They swapped victories and gained fans to the sport of women's tennis. Ever the competitor, Navratilova has the lead in their matches winning 43 to Chris's 37. The two remain good friends to this day.

A Physical Player:

Beginning in 1981, Martina trained with basketball great Nancy Lieberman, gaining skills and strength to heighten her already impressive athletic ability. All the training paid off, because in 1982 Martina won a record 15 singles tournaments and, 14 doubles tournaments: a total of 29 tournaments in one year.

Martina's Loves:

Martina had a relationship with with lesbian bestselling author, Rita Mae Brown. When pressed, she came finally out as bisexual in 1980. She paid a price. Although she was one of the greatest players to play the game, she did not receive the sponosorships one would have expected.

Judy Nelson and Martina Navratilova:

Martina was with her partner Judy Nelson for eight years. When they broke up in 1991, Nelson sued Martina for $15 million. The media had a heyday and eventually the two settled out of court.

Martina the Activist:

Martina filed a lawsuit against Colorado's anti-gay Amendment 2 in 1993. She also spoke at the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights that same year.
Martina is involved with the Rainbow Endowment, a philanthropic organization that gives money to gay and lesbian causes.

Martina also donates her time to several animal rights and environmental groups including People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Sierra Club and The Retirement Home for Horses.

Come on Out!:

In 2000, Navratilova won the National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign. Here's an exerpt from her speech, "People often ask me, 'Now that I've come out, what more can I do?' My answer to that would be, 'Encourage others to come out.' and to be active, supportive members of our community, which in turn, helps contribute positive change and ultimately to fair and equal opportunities for us all."

Retirement?:

Martina retired from single's competition in 1994. In 2000, she came back to compete in doubles. She broke all kinds of records for being the oldest Grand Slam winner in history. Martina said, "When I was growing up I wanted to be the youngest to win something, not the oldest. But it is pretty sweet to have all of them."
After winning the mixed doubles at the U.S. Open in 2006 at age 49, Martina announced that this time she is retiring from tennis for good.

Martina Still Can!:

On June 22, 2004 Martina at 47 became the oldest woman to win at Wimbledon since 1922 when she beat 24-year-old Catalina Castano of Colombia 6-0, 6-1. When asked why she is still playing, Martina said, "I guess the answer is, because I still can, bottom line."

More Martina :

  • Single's Titles: 168--More than any other player, male or female
  • Doubles Titles: 176
  • Grand Slams: 18 singles, 40 doubles
  • Weeks ranked #1 by the WTA: 331
  • She was rank #1 in the world for 7 years
  • She won singles and doubles titles at the same event a record 84 times.
  • Martina Navratilova was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000
  • In addition to tennis, Martina enjoys ice hockey, mountain biking, scuba diving, skiing, snow boarding, basketball, golf and horseback riding.

Billie Jean King said on ESPN.com, "She's the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who's ever lived. She added, "When you think about her, you think about staying healthy. She's someone who is very comfortable in her own skin, about her sexuality, which I think is good for others to see."

In 2006 Martina released Shape Your Self a six-step fitness plan for healthy lifestyle.

Martina's quote about getting older: "You can do great things regardless of your age if you just believe and, you know, go for it," she said. "Don't get limited by people that say, 'No, you can't do that because you're too old or because you're heavy or you're not an athlete.' Whatever your limitations might be, don't let them define you. I didn't let it define me."

Martina insists that her 2006 victory at the U.S. Open is her last professional match. I guess time will tell if this retirement is for real.

Martina is one of several out lesbian athletes who are sponsored by Olivia.

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