Residence: Sarasota, Florida, USA
DOB: October 18, 1956
Birthplace: Prague, Czech Republic
Height: 5' 8'' (1.73 m)
Weight: 145 lbs. (65 k)
Status: Pro (1975)
Martina Navratilova, the nine-times Wimbledon champion, has regained her Czech nationality after saying she was "ashamed" of George Bush.
Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, where she was due to play in an exhibition tournament, Navratilova confirmed she had again become a citizen of the country of her birth, 33 years after she fled communist Czechoslovakia to live in the US.
"I lost [Czech citizenship] at the time I defected. I got it back on February 9, 2009" she said, adding that she had decided to retain her US nationality.
In an interview last year with the Czech newspaper Lidove Noviny, the tennis player said she was as ashamed of the US under Bush as she once was about Czechoslovakia, which split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia after communism fell in 1993.
"The thing is that we elected Bush," she said. "That is worse! Against that, nobody chose a communist government in Czechoslovakia."
Navratilova was 18 when she fled to the US, angering the communist Czech regime, which immediately stripped her of her nationality. She became an American citizen in 1981. She later said she had been forced to leave Czechoslovakia because the authorities were trying to stop her from playing in the US, where the majority of big tournaments were then held.
She had little cause to regret that decision. She went on to become one of the most successful players of all time, winning 18 grand slam singles titles, including nine Wimbledon crowns, and 31 grand slam doubles titles. Her natural strength and obsession with physical fitness helped prolong her career well beyond the length of most athletes.
Navratilova retired in 1994 but re-emerged six years later to win several doubles tournaments. She played her last competitive match in 2006, capturing the mixed doubles title at the US Open, the 354th tournament of her career.
(Guardian News & Media 2008)
She beat Chris Evert Lloyd in the ladies' singles final
Martina Navratilova with the Ladies' Singles trophy
winning the title for the ninth time in her career
Credit: S&G and Barratts/PA Photos
From PRESS ASSOCIATION images
Navratilova was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now in the Czech Republic). She was the national champion in her native country from 1972 to 1975 and won the junior girls championship at Wimbledon in 1973. By the end of 1974 she had played in the singles finals of a number of professional tournaments and, with American tennis player Chris Evert as her partner, won several doubles championships.
Frustrated by the Czechoslovakian Tennis Federation's interference with her career, Navratilova defected to the United States in 1975. The same year she became a leading player on the women's professional tennis tour, as she and Evert won the French Open doubles championship, Navratilova’s first major title. The next year the pair won the Wimbledon doubles championship.
Navratilova won the Wimbledon singles championship in 1978 and again in 1979, when she finished the year as the world's top-ranked player. In 1981 she became a U.S. citizen. From 1982 to 1987 she held the number-one ranking for all but 22 weeks of a 282-week span.
Navratilova dominated Wimbledon from 1982 to 1987, winning six consecutive singles titles, and she won the title again in 1990 to set a record with nine Wimbledon singles championships during her career. In addition, she won nine other major singles titles: four times at the U.S. Open (1983, 1984, 1986, 1987), three times at the Australian Open (1981, 1983, 1985), and twice at the French Open (1982 and 1984).
During this period Navratilova and Evert, no longer doubles partners, developed an intense rivalry. They faced each other in 13 major singles finals, and Navratilova won 10 of these.
Navratilova also won fame for her women’s doubles play, winning 31 major titles with a variety of partners. These included the U.S. Open (nine times), the Australian Open (eight times), and the French Open and Wimbledon (seven times each).
Photo, courtesy of "Ladies of the Court: A Century of Women
at Wimbledon" by Virginia Wade and Jean Rafferty
Navratilova defeated Chris Evert 43 times (43-37), Billie Jean King nine times (9-5), Tracy Austin 21 times (21-13), Evonne Goolagong 15 times (15-12), Hana Mandlikova 30 times (30-7), Andrea Jeager 11 times (11-4), Steffi Graf nine times (9-9), Gabriela Sabatini 15 times (15-6), Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario 12 times (12-3) and Monica Seles seven times (7-10).
(Sony Ericsson WTA Tour)
Nobody, ever, has had such a glittering trove of numbers. As a pro since 1973, she played the most singles tournaments (380) and matches (1,650), and won the most titles (167) and matches (1,438) with a won-lost mark of 1,438-212. She won more prize money, $20,344,061, than all but Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras.
Her doubles feats, attesting to a grandeur of completeness, were as sparkling: played the second most tournaments (286) and the most matches (1,111), and won the most titles (162) and matches (989) with a won-lost mark of 989-122. Throw in infrequent but very positive mixed doubles: played 27 tournaments, won 8 with a won-lost of 94-19. Overall for this three-way stretcher: played the most tournaments (693) and matches (2,874); won the most titles (337) and matches (2,521) with a 2,521-353 won-lost. Thus she battled .872 in singles, .890 in doubles, and .832 in mixed--.877 for everything. It means she won 48.6 percent of all the tournaments she entered. Whew!
In the matter of major titles, her starburst of 56 (18 singles, 31 doubles, 7 mixed) didn't quite reach Margaret Court's stratospheric 62 (24-19-19). Despite her record nine Wimbledons in singles she's still a step behind Billie Jean King's overall record of 20, Martina holding 9-7-3.
Images from AllPosters.com
Singles Champion: 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1990
Singles Runner-up: 1988, 1989, 1994
Doubles Champion: 1976, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986
Doubles Runner-up: 1977, 1985
Mixed Doubles Champion: 1985, 1993, 1995, 2003
Mixed Doubles Runner-up: 1986
(From Wimbledon 2008)
In march, 2008 Martina said, "I fell in love with the US, its democracy and the people. And since most of the tennis tournaments were played here, it made perfect sense for me to make my home in US. I applied for US citizenship and received it on July 20, 1981. Since then I have proudly represented the US in numerous competitions, including the Fed Cup, the Wightman Cup and the Athens Olympics. In fact, in 1986 I helped win the Fed Cup for USA in Prague, beating Czechoslovakia in the finals.
In 1989 Czechoslovakia became a democracy and I could now be proud of my birth country for all the right reasons. I have never said that I wanted to get dual citizenship because I was unhappy with the Bush administration. Yet this is what was reported. I have never, ever said I would denounce my American citizenship once I get my Czech one, yet somehow this was also reported. And of course I am now getting a big share of negative response to these allegations. The fact that they are false does not seem to matter to the reporters telling these stories.
I love my birth country and the fact that it is now a free country and a true democracy. But my home is here, in the US. I have lived in America since 1975 and I intend to always live here. This is my home and it feels almost gratuitous to me that I have to affirm my love for the USA. I live here, I vote here, I pay my taxes here and yes, I will do my jury duty... any reports stating I am leaving and most of all, denouncing my American citizenship are simply not true and quite frankly, insulting.
Having dual citizenship is not an unusual thing for millions of Americans and I am baffled how being one of them turned into such a negative proposition. My fellow dual citizenship countrywoman, Madeleine Albright, certainly did not catch this flack... so why me? Beats me...but such is the power of the press. Sometimes, they don't let facts get in the way of their story. And that is a shame."
(THE HUFFINGTON POST))
Looking back on her life, Ms Navratilova has said: "At about eight years old, I decided tennis was going to be the ticket.
"Mind you there was no money in it back then, but I loved the game so much, so my family did everything to make that happen."
After what she described as a "pretty normal life until I hit 16", when, during her first year on tour, "it was a treat to go 'west' for a once in a lifetime vacation. So I knew I was pretty lucky".
Over the years Ms Navratilova has been a high-profile supporter of a number of charities devoted to deprived children, animal rights and gay rights.
"How gratifying it must have been for her," Frank Deford wrote. "To have achieved so much, triumphed so magnificently, yet always to have been the other, the odd one, alone: lefthander in a righthanded universe, gay in a straight world; defector, immigrant; the (last?) gallant volleyer among all those duplicate baseline bytes. When she came into the game, she was the European among Americans; she leaves as the American among Europeans -- and the only grown-up left in the tennis crib. Can't she ever get it right?"
While there was strength in her game, her weakness for fast foods, sleek cars, gold jewelry and Gucci garb almost stopped her climb to the top. Like many a teenager, she fell in love with Whoppers and Big Macs, fries and milkshakes. She beefed up to 167 pounds on her 5-foot-7 1/2 frame and tennis authority Bud Collins described her as "the Great Wide Hope."
It would not be until 1978 that Navratilova would become No. 1 and win her first singles Grand Slam, defeating Evert in the Wimbledon final, the tournament that she always had dreamed of winning. A dozen years later, after winning her ninth Wimbledon, she said, "I prefer to consider my love for Wimbledon a rational reverence."
Meanwhile, Navratilova also had more earthly loves, such as an affair with an author. In July 1981, soon after being granted U.S. citizenship, she took the bold step of telling the truth when asked about her sexual preferences. Navratilova said she was bisexual.
(Martina was alone on top by Larry Schwartz, Special to ESPN.com)
From DailyMail online
"Martina was the first legitimate superstar who literally came out while she was a superstar," said Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women's Sports Foundation. "She exploded the barrier by putting it on the table. She basically said this part of my life doesn't have anything to do with me as a tennis player. Judge me for who I am."
But Navratilova's honesty cost her millions in endorsement opportunities because of corporate homophobia.
"Through all her transformations -- of body, hair, clothes, glasses, nationalities, coaches, lovers -- the one thing, ever the same, ever distinct, is her voice, which is pitched to shatter a champagne flute," Deford wrote. "It brought forth sounds of decency and forthrightness, leavened with wit and compassion. Tennis was very blessed to have such a voice for so long, for these times."
(Martina was alone on top by Larry Schwartz, Special to ESPN.com)
Ariana Fercos, Ferdinand Fercos
Martina Navratilova and Tony Fercos
Navratilova spends her retired years as a TV commentator, gay rights activist, mystery novelist, airplane pilot and painter. Some of the canvases in her Art Grand Slam project, made by knocking paint-covered tennis balls against a canvas, were included in Hong Kong’s Art HK exhibition. The tennis champion sat down with power in Hong Kong to talk about what keeps her going and reminisce over highlights from her storied career on the court.
"People always want to know the biggest ones. But I think for me, it’s the body of work. Of course, there are some matches that stand out more than others. They’re special for different reasons. I think the happiest matches, there are probably a couple: the first time I ever won a tournament, which was in 1974, at the Virginia Slims tournament in Orlando. I was 17 years old, and certainly not expected to win. And then there was my first Wimbledon four years later. You never know if you’re ever going to win it until you win that first time. All the Wimbledon wins were special, but that first one was really the happiest because of that. And then winning my last match ever, which was the 2006 US Open mixed doubles title with Bob Bryan. That was also probably one of the happiest because it was the last competitive match I played and I finished on a high note and played well. It was a storybook ending for me. So those would stand out the most. But there were so many in between that were special for different reasons. The first time I beat my mom I was happy as could be. It was the first time I knew I was going to be a good player because I could beat her, as young as I was."
Pam Shriver (Special to ESPN.com) said, "As a singles player, Martina's strategy was to serve and volley and get to the net. In doubles, where you must get to the net to survive, it was more of the same, which is why she and I thrived as a doubles team for 10 years. We were natural serve-and-volley players.
But there was much more to Martina's doubles game, and everything she did made her an awesome doubles player. Her reach, court coverage and power made her intimidating. And she was always working toward getting to the net. Even when we were returning serve, she was always trying to get the edge over the opponent.
When Martina got to the net, she covered more court than anyone. And most important, she was comfortable at net. When a player is comfortable, she will move better. Martina also was difficult to hit over or around, and I never had to worry about the middle of the court because I knew she had it covered.
From the beginning, Martina was a gifted athlete who worked herself into great condition. But even when she was a little bit heavy, she covered the court better than an average player, past or present. Her feet and hands were extremely quick. And while I had slow feet and quick hands, both of us had excellent reflexes, so we worked well together.
Her serve was pretty good, but in doubles she took a little bit of pace off it. Being left-handed was a bit tricky and unusual for our opponents, who had to adjust to her lefty serve. Her left-handed forehand, going back to the ad side of the court, was the dominant shot from the back of the court on our team.
Martina also hit consistent, intelligent returns that were low, which is good for doubles. She could hit down the alley or go crosscourt. Martina also had enough power to hit winners down the middle when she got stuck back near the baseline. She would take a high forehand volley and hit the ball so hard that I remember some opponents turned away and screamed, intimidated by her display of power.
Some players focus on singles competition and tend to not put as much heart or effort into doubles play, but Martina was intense whether playing singles or doubles.
Martina enjoyed playing doubles and winning the doubles titles, and appreciated the practice that doubles competition gave her for singles. But in the 10 years we played together, we probably practiced four times."