Navratilova, Martina (1956—)

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Navratilova, Martina (1956—)

Czech-born record-breaking tennis champion who won 167 singles championships (18 in Grand Slam tournaments), 165 doubles championships, 55 mixed-doubles championships, and 9 Wimbledon championships. Pronunciation: (originally) Nav-RAH-tee-low-VAH; (according to American media) NAV-rah-ti-LOW-vah. Born Martina Subertova on October 18, 1956, in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic); daughter of Jana (Semanska) Subert Navratil and Miroslav Kamil Subert; stepdaughter of Miroslav Navratil; never married; no children.

Began playing tennis at age six (1962); began professional training at nine (1965); at 13, was the youngest player on the Czech national tennis team (1969); was allowed by the Communist government then in power to travel to the U.S. (1973) to compete on the U.S. Tennis Association circuit; during another U.S tour, decided to defect and seek American citizenship (1975), which was granted (1981); during years of professional play, won 167 singles events, including 9 Wimbledon titles and 4 U.S. Open titles, and was credited with being among the first women to use rigorous strength training to bring a highly aggressive and physically demanding style to the women's circuit; by the time of retirement from singles play (1994), had won a record-setting $20 million in prize money; though career was complicated by her public candor about her sexuality, continues to act as a well-known speaker for gay and women's rights; inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport (2000).

Martina Navratilova was barely six years old when she first stepped onto a tennis court. "The moment I stepped onto that crunchy red clay, felt the grit under my sneakers, felt the joy of smacking a ball over the net," she said of that day in 1962 in her native Czechoslovakia, "I knew I was in the right place." Tennis would bring her, among other things, a settled childhood in the midst of political upheaval, a means to escape Communist oppression, and a way to make her way in her adopted homeland.

Tennis was a constant in her family background. Martina's grandmother Agnes Semanska had once beat Vera Sukova to win a Czech national tournament, while an uncle had played at the national level; and her mother Jana Semanska had once seemed destined for similar honors until giving up a tennis career rather than submit to a father who drove her relentlessly to better her game. Jana chose skiing as a replacement sport and was working as a ski instructor at a resort near the German border when she met and married Miroslav Subert (pronounced Shubert) and moved with him to a village in the Krkonose mountains in which the chief business was a ski resort called Martinovka. The resort provided them both with employment (Miroslav was the chief of the resort's ski patrol) and also the name for their daughter, born on October 18, 1956, in Prague, where Jana's family were still living. In keeping with Eastern European tradition, the child carried a feminine version of her father's last name and was known as Martina Subertova. Jana's return to Martinovka with her baby provided Martina with her earliest memories of gliding down brilliant white mountains under bright blue skies.

Martina Navratilova">

We must be proud of who we are, and we cannot do that while we hide.

—Martina Navratilova

After three years of marriage, however, Jana found it increasingly difficult to deal with the erratic moods of her highly emotional husband. She left him to return with Martina to a single room on her mother's estate in the town of Revnice, just outside Prague, where Martina grew up in the bosoms of her beloved maternal and paternal grandmothers. Jana had grown up privileged on this estate which once boasted 30 acres and a grove of fruit trees. Following the Communist takeover in 1948, the estate was confined to the house (now shared with other families) and the red-clay tennis court which was falling into disrepair and used more often for soccer games. "I think my mother and my grandmother carried a sense of litost, a Czech word for sadness, that I picked up," wrote Navratilova, "a feeling of loss at the core of their souls."

In later years, Navratilova would barely remember Miroslav, but would trace her sense of dislocation to his sudden loss. Indeed, she did not learn of his death until several years after the fact, when her mother casually mentioned that Miroslav had died in a hospital from a stomach ailment; and Martina was 23 before she was told the truth—that although Miroslav had, as Jana said, been hospitalized at the time of his death, he had actually committed suicide in the wake of a love affair which had ended badly. Further childhood turmoil stemmed from the fact that, with her gangly body and close-cropped hair, Navratilova was often mistaken for a boy. Store clerks would direct her to the boys' section; old women would mistake her for a Boy Scout and ask her assistance in crossing the street. "Somehow I had the sense of things being out of focus, out of place," Navratilova later said, "the sense that I should be somewhere else."

Not long after moving back to Prague, Jana joined the city's tennis club and met Miroslav Navratil, another member with whom she was often teamed for friendly doubles matches. "Mirek," as everyone called him, earned his living as an accountant but was an enthusiastic athlete. He also shared Jana's interest in the West and, like her, had taught himself English. The two married in July 1961 and presented Martina with a half-sister, named for her mother, two years later. By all accounts, the marriage was stable and the family lived in an upstairs room on the Revnice estate. It was Mirek who first led his stepdaughter onto the court that day in 1962 and noticed her enthusiasm for hitting the ball back to him with unusual force for a sixyear-old; and it was Mirek who continued to hit the ball back to her for hours over the next three years, telling Martina all the while that she would be a champion player and to imagine playing at Wimbledon one day. As her tennis idol, Navratilova chose Australian Rod Laver, nicknamed "Rocket Rod" for the speed of his court style, after seeing Laver play on television. "Women didn't play like him, not then," Navratilova said. "But if ever there was a player I wanted to copy, it was Laver."

When she was nine years old, her stepfather took her to Davis Cup player George Parma, then Czechoslovakia's best tennis player and coach, who gave lessons at the country's only indoor court at the western edge of Prague. Without Parma's blessing and guidance, tennis hopefuls were unable to play during the bitterly cold winter months. But after Parma hit balls to her for half an hour, driving them especially hard out to the sideline to test Martina's agility, he agreed to take her on as a student with one lesson a week. "He was the most patient coach a kid could have," Navratilova said of Parma. "He would never shout or downgrade me in any way." Parma's first step was to break Martina of the two-handed backhand Mirek had taught her, taking her right hand off the racquet and giving her a few more inches of reach. Telling her that "ordinary shots are what make the game," Parma added subtlety to Martina's game and encouraged her to play the baseline instead of constantly rushing the net. Parma was so impressed with Navratilova's ability that he soon added a second lesson to the weekly schedule and entered her in his junior program, even though she was three years younger than the minimum age

and had to obtain special medical permission to compete outside her age group. Martina still recalls with some amazement that Parma never charged for his time and, even more important, taught her to see tennis as a lifestyle rather than just a game. "Compete whenever you have the chance," he told her. "Get to see the world. Sports is one way you'll be able to travel."

During this time, it was her generous paternal grandmother, Andela Subertova , who became Martina's emotional mainstay. "I loved Grandma Subertova so much that she almost did not get into this book," wrote Navratilova in her autobiography. "Every time I started to talk about her, I would break into tears, and feel weak and tired deep inside." When Navratilova journeyed into Prague to train, Andelda, who lived in a small apartment in the Klamovka section, would sometimes be waiting at the tram with a container of carrot salad, urging, "Eat it; it's good for your eyes." She was the voice of approval, the steadfast friend no matter what. On Friday nights, Martina would stay over with her.

Despite her enthusiasm for Parma's advice, however, by the time Navratilova had begun competing in tournaments in other parts of the country, travel outside Czechoslovakia was becoming problematic. The Soviet Union had already installed a puppet government in neighboring Hungary after its invasion of that country in 1956, the year of Navratilova's birth; now, ten years later, the Communist Party line imposed on Czechoslovakia's struggling independent government was becoming harder to ignore. Even though Jana and Mirek refused to join the party, public expressions of support for Western ideas were dangerous and no one was allowed to travel outside the country without express permission. Reaction to the oppression produced the "Prague Spring" of 1968, when a flood of articles and speeches openly challenged the Communist Party's stranglehold. Moscow's answer was swift and brutal. On August 21, 1968, while Navratilova was playing in Prague's Pilsner tournament, Russian tanks rolled through the streets of the city and crushed any hope of the liberals' search for "socialism with a human face."

All bets were off; the rules had changed. Navratilova resented the Russians, the loss of Czechoslovakia, the constant propaganda against the U.S. that did not jibe with the American movies and the actions of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, whom she dearly loved. After trouncing two Russian girls in doubles around that time, Martina walked to the net and said, "You need a tank to beat me." She was being pressured to join the Communist Youth Party; the implied threat for noncompliance was the ruin of her tennis career. "I saw my country lose its verve, lose its productivity, lose its soul," wrote Navratilova. "For someone with a skill, a career, an aspiration, there was only one thing to do: get out." Among the 120,000 Czechs who defected to the West during the year after Moscow's invasion were George Parma and his family. He mailed a regimen for her, and her stepfather took over and followed it.

But Parma's advice about the liberating possibilities of tennis proved true when Navratilova was allowed to travel to West Germany in 1969 as a member of the Czech national tennis team. It was the first time she had been outside the country, and she could hardly ignore the change in atmosphere once the train carrying her north crossed the border into prosperous West Germany, with its supermarkets, shiny Westernmanufactured cars, and well-dressed people. Although she was the youngest member of the Czech team, Martina's handy defeat of much older German women during tournament play brought her for the first time to the attention of the larger world of tennis outside Czechoslovakia. Rewarded for her performance with a membership in Prague's prestigious Sparta Club, an elite sports club open only to the country's best athletes, Martina returned to West Germany in 1970 and played in tournaments throughout Eastern Europe and in Russia during the next two years. At 16, she made it to the finals of the Czech National championships and defeated the country's top-ranked player 7–5, 6–4 to become Czechoslovakia's second highest-ranked player. By the time she arrived in England for her first indoor tournament on a wooden court, the startling energy and athleticism of her game brought so much press attention that the BBC predicted she would be the next Wimbledon champion.

By now, the government-controlled Czech Tennis Federation trusted Navratilova well enough to announce early in 1973 that it would send her on the U.S. winter circuit along with the country's third-ranked woman, Marie Newmannova , who had already played in America and who was allowed to travel without a bodyguard and to handle her own winnings. Martina's winnings, on the other hand, would be automatically handed over to the Federation while she herself lived on a small weekly allowance. But she would be playing the same circuit as some of the world's top-ranked players, among them Evonne Goolagong, Virginia Wade and the woman who would become alternately Martina's nemesis and best friend, Chris Evert . "I saw her when she was … just a skinny little kid with a terrific forehand," Virginia Wade recalled of her first sight of the new European player on the circuit. "Even then I knew she would one day be a champion."

More important was Navratilova's immediate love affair with America. She still remembers stepping off the plane in Florida with the same sense of belonging as the day she first walked onto a tennis court in Prague. "When I came [to the United States], it was like going home again, to a world somebody had taken from me," she said. The tour provided another revelation, too, when Navratilova defeated Helga Masthoff in St. Petersburg, Florida, in her first match on a hardpacked clay court in humid, semi-tropical conditions. The match lasted three and half hours before Martina swept the last two sets. "That match told me something," Navratilova remembers. "I knew I could be in the top ten. I really could be one of the best, I told myself. I can beat these people." The Czech Tennis Federation enthusiastically agreed and next sent Martina to her first French Open, where she advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to Evonne Goolagong; to her first Wimbledon, where she won her first two rounds before losing her third round to Patti Hogan ; and on to the U.S Open in Forest Hills, New York. During the tournament, Navratilova met business manager Fred Barman, who agreed to take her on as a client.

By the time she returned home in 1974, Navratilova was more famous in Czechoslovakia than Jan Kodes, then the Czech men's champ, and claimed that ill-feeling from the male-dominated Tennis Federation was behind veiled warnings from colleagues that she was becoming too Westernized. "You've got to cool it," Martina remembers Vera Sukova, the Czech women's coach, telling her. "You'll get yourself in trouble and everybody else in trouble. Just play the game." Sukova's warning seem justified when, during her next American tour in 1975, Navratilova decided to stay on after her last scheduled match in Boston and play in a tournament in Florida without telling her parents, the Federation, or anyone else back home. She had played brilliantly during that year's Virginia Slims tour, beating Chris Evert for the first time at Washington and then defeating, in turn, Virginia Wade, Margaret Court and Evonne Goolagong to win the U.S. Indoors championship in Boston. But the telegram sent to Florida by the Czech Tennis Federation took no account of these victories and demanded that she return immediately to Prague. Instead, she finished the tournament and then went home, to face a great deal of anger.

The stern reprimand she received in Prague did not prevent Martina from refusing to stay with the Czech team during the French Open in Paris; she moved instead into the same hotel in which her doubles partner at the Open, Chris Evert, was staying. "Seeded players could get reservations and good rates at one of the fancy hotels, and since I was seeded second and playing doubles with Chris, I thought it natural for us to stay in the same hotel. I never gave it a second thought." The pressure continued to mount when the Federation hinted that Navratilova would not be allowed to play in the U.S. Open, a decision that was rescinded at the last minute after Jan Kodes himself convinced the Federation that Martina's probable win at Forest Hills would be good for the country's image. "Even with permission to leave the country, I could feel their control tightening," Navratilova said. "They were treating me like a little girl."

The night before she had left Prague, she had taken a walk with her stepfather, who told her that if she defected to the U.S. to stay there, even if they begged her to return. Her mother had told her previously that she did not want to know if Martina were going to defect. "I packed my clothes, fussed around the house, tried to sleep, and went to the airport the next morning knowing there was a chance I would never see my family or my homeland again."

It was during play at a warmup tournament outside New York before the Open that Navratilova finally made up her mind to defect, although no one watching her play against Chris Evert at Forest Hills knew the reason for an apparent, and highly uncharacteristic, lack of concentration that led to her loss to Evert in the semifinals. Fred Barman had, in fact, arranged for a meeting that very evening with U.S. immigration officials in Manhattan. At a press conference the next morning, Navratilova said her decision had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with tennis. "I wanted to be a world class tennis player," she later said. "I never thought of it as a defection." The Czech Tennis Federation thought otherwise. "Martina Navratilova has suffered a defeat in the face of Czechoslovak society," its official press statement read. "Navratilova had all possibilities in Czechoslovakia to develop her talent, but she preferred a professional career and a fat bank account." She would have to wait five years before she could become an American citizen, five years before she could fly over a Soviet bloc country without being fearful of making an unscheduled landing and being hauled off the plane. In 1981, Navratilova gained full U.S. citizenship.

Moving into a room in Fred Barman's Beverly Hills home until the furor over her defection died down, Navratilova returned to her old form on the court and played to standing ovations around the country. She had arrived at a time when women's tennis had begun attracting as much attention and support as its male counterpart, thanks to the brilliant playing of such stars as Billie Jean King , Margaret Court, Virginia Wade and the player who fascinated Martina the most, Chris Evert. "Even before I met her, she stood for everything I admired in this country," Navratilova said of Evert. "Poise, ability, sportsmanship, style." Evert was already seeded among the top women players in the world by the time she defeated Martina in their first meeting in Akron, Ohio, during Navratilova's first American tour in 1973; by 1975, the year of her defection, Martina had evened the score with her victory over Evert in Washington. Over the next 20 years, the two women would trade first and second rankings with such dizzying frequency that even Martina tactfully admitted in the mid-1980s that "things get a little touchy on both sides when we talk about our accomplishments." But their friendship managed to survive their rivalries on the court. "I'll never forget that when I first came around, insecure and lonely, Chris Evert was there to say hello," Navratilova wrote.

By 1976, however, the loneliness and insecurity had begun to affect Martina's game. The strain surfaced during quarterfinals play at Wimbledon against Britain's Sue Barker , when Navratilova openly challenged what seemed a bad call in Barker's favor by shouting to the judges, "I wonder if you called it that way because she's British!" The challenge, and Navratilova's subsequent withdrawal from the match before the third set, was widely reported in the international press. Her game completely fell apart at that year's U.S. Open during first round play against Janet Newberry , when Martina repeatedly and inexplicably, to observers at least, burst into tears. "I never saw anybody so miserable, so totally out of control," Newberry commented afterward. Navratilova still remembers the match as the most embarrassing loss of her long career and winced at the nickname that the press adopted for her, "the Choker."

But help arrived in the person of Sandra Haynie , a top-ranked player on the women's golf circuit who was among the audience watching Martina's downfall at the U.S. Open. Navratilova was introduced to Haynie by a mutual friend and sensed that Haynie's optimism and disciplined training methods could pull her out of her slump. Buying a house in Dallas, Texas, where Haynie lived, Martina adopted a regular workout schedule developed by Haynie and, on Haynie's advice, returned to her former strategy of aggressively playing the net rather than playing the baseline—the kind of defensive reaction forced on her by Chris Evert's playing style. "Stop playing Chris' game," Haynie succinctly put it. The advice proved sound. While Navratilova had won only two tournaments in all of 1976, she began 1977 by defeating Evert in finals play at Washington and went on to win six more tournaments. The following year brought 37 straight tournament wins, including 7 finals matches against Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals and Evonne Goolagong, among others, before Martina captured her first Wimbledon title by defeating Chris Evert a second time, 2–6, 6–4, 7–3. By the end of 1978, just two years after her game had fallen apart, Martina Navratilova was seeded #1 in world rankings.

There were momentous events of a more personal nature that year, too. Navratilova had noticed during her first year in America that she found comfort in the support and camaraderie of her fellow players on the circuit. "They were professionals, their lives not always defined by men," she later said of her attraction to women. "A lot of it has to do with freedom." During the 1978 tour, Navratilova had met novelist Rita Mae Brown , who was developing a story idea for a new book in which a Czech character figured prominently. There had been several brief affairs by the time Navratilova met Brown, although for some years afterward Martina would publicly either deny her homosexuality or claim she was bisexual. After several meetings and hours talking on the telephone with Brown while she toured, the two women set up house together in Charlottesville, Virginia. "There was something very direct about her mind," said Navratilova, "something I had never encountered in a woman before." Equally impressive was Brown's total lack of interest in sports which, as time passed and the two women settled into a comfortable domestic life, was held responsible on the circuit for a noticeable decline in Martina's game. By 1980, Navratilova had lost her #1 ranking to Chris Evert. "Martina's tennis was her business, it wasn't my business," Brown claimed after the relationship had ended, but conflict seemed inevitable. The friction only increased when Martina's family visited the United States in 1979 and were openly critical of her sexual orientation in general and her relationship with Brown in particular. "Our relationship wasn't all that physical to begin with, but I was attracted to her emotionally and especially intellectually," Navratilova wrote. "That's what makes me suspicious of all the sexual labels. I hate it when people have a preconceived notion of what you are. No matter what you say, you'll come out the way they want you to be. I was romantically involved with somebody who wrote and told funny stories and had a cat named Baby Jesus and happened to be a woman. Yet the strongest part of her, the part that most attracted me, was the verbal, mental, social, psychological part of her." Brown was openly gay; her book Rubyfruit Jungle was openly gay. Though Navratilova never discussed their relationship in an interview and the mainstream press remained silent, the scandal magazines made hay. Further turmoil ensued when, in 1981, Martina met Nancy Lieberman-Cline , who had been playing for the Dallas Diamonds in the newly formed Women's Basketball League before an injury forced her early retirement. The resulting tensions finally burst into the open when Martina left Brown for Lieberman-Cline. Gossip on the circuit was that Brown had fired a pistol at Navratilova during one particularly emotional dispute, although Brown later claimed that the weapon had fired accidentally when she hurled it across the room in anger. "If I were going to shoot at somebody, I wouldn't miss," Brown said. "I have very, very good hand-eye coordination."

Lieberman-Cline was more than a new love interest, however, for it was her rigorous and physically demanding workouts that brought Martina's game to new heights of power and aggressive play. "Nancy got me in shape the only way she knew how: the hard way," Navratilova later wrote. "I was discovering true pain in my body for the first time in my life." Lieberman-Cline's prescription included daily runs of up to five miles, weight-training, basketball and a strict low-fat diet, all blended with psychological techniques to boost self-confidence. ("Nancy taught Martina to hate me," Chris Evert once said.) Martina had lost over 20 pounds by the end of 1981, weighing in at a trim 147 and scotching another moniker she had earned in earlier and heavier years, "The Great Wide Hope." At the end of 1982, after two years playing under Lieberman-Cline's guidance, Navratilova became the first female athlete in any sport to win more than $1 million in one season. She was making so much money, in fact, that her garage held over a dozen cars, including a Rolls-Royce. The entourage with which she traveled—including Lieberman-Cline, a dietician, a masseur, and a chiropractor—came to be called "Team Navratilova." She was also becoming a favorite with tournament crowds: "They weren't cheering Martina the Complainer, Martina the Czech, Martina the Loser, Martina the Bisexual Defector," she wrote. "They were cheering me."

But only two things really mattered now—regaining her #1 ranking and capturing the only Grand Slam title that had so far eluded her, the U.S. Open. By 1983, she had accomplished both, facing Chris Evert in finals play for the 39th time in almost 10 years on the circuit. Evert had taken the #1 seed away from her three years earlier, but now Martina battled Evert to the fourth match point, when Evert sent the ball outside and gave Navratilova a 6–1, 6–3 victory and the first of four U.S. Open titles. "I jumped into the air, but I quickly remembered the champion on the other side of the net, and how gracious she had always been to me. I had to show her the same respect. I rushed to the net, and Chris Evert Lloyd—my grandmother's favorite player—was there waiting. She put her arm around me and patted my head with her racquet. Then, arm in arm, we walked off the court." Martina credits the victory not to Lieberman-Cline, but to Renee Richards . Richards, a transsexual who had formerly been known as Richard Raskind before qualifying for the women's tour in 1977, had suggested a more refined, analytical approach on the court and had worked with Navratilova for nearly a year before disputes with Lieberman-Cline ended the working partnership. Martina herself ended her relationship with Lieberman-Cline in 1984, but she continued to play her game with a muscular, aggressive, and risky style that changed women's tennis. "She tended to come up with some outrageous stuff," Pam Shriver said of Navratilova during their doubles partnership that racked up 20 Grand Slam titles during the mid-to-late 1980s. "But a lot of times it came off and worked for her."

In May 1984, someone new was in the Team Navratilova booth at the French Open at Roland Garros: Judy Nelson , a mother of two boys. Navratilova beat Evert once again in the finals for her fourth straight Grand Slam victory. The spotlight was on the winner—and her entourage. When Nelson and Navratilova arrived at Wimbledon that summer the British press had been primed. One reporter pushed in with "Are you still a lesbian?" Martina countered with "Are you still the alternative?" On the court, she beat Evert once again in the finals. By 1990, when Navratilova won her record-setting ninth Wimbledon title, she walked off the court and into the arms of Nelson, which the commentators noted with delight. (Their later breakup, to Navratilova's chagrin, would be just as public.)

After 1990, Martina found herself facing much younger players who had studied her game and learned their lessons well. Her 6–4, 6–2 loss to Gabriela Sabatini at the Virginia Slims tournament in New York in November 1991 was followed by similar difficulties until, at Wimbledon in 1994, Navratilova lost in finals play by a whisker to Conchita Martinez , who had been a little girl when Martina won her first Wimbledon nearly 20 years earlier. With a curtsy to the royal box and a salute to the cheering crowds with their 90-second standing ovation, Navratilova scooped up a bit of turf from Centre Court as a souvenir and officially retired from professional singles play. She was 37 years old, had earned over $20 million in her 21 years of professional play, and had been ranked the #1 player in the world seven times. She had won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 37 Grand Slam doubles titles, and was the all-time leader among both women and men with 167 singles titles to her credit.

The media could not find enough superlatives to thank her for the years and years of sensational tennis. Frank DeFord wrote that she had always "been the other, the odd one, alone: lefthander in a right-handed universe, gay in a straight world; defector, immigrant, the (last?) gallant volleyer among all those duplicate baseline bytes…. [S]he was the European among Americans; she leaves as the American among Europeans—and the only grown-up left in the tennis crib." In her last match on November 15, 1994, fittingly at Madison Square Garden, they raised a red banner with a yellow tennis ball to the rafters in her honor, "the first such tribute at the Garden," wrote AP tennis writer Steve Wilstein, "for any woman and appropriate for the most successful tennis player, man or woman, in history."

Today, Navratilova is an outspoken advocate of women's rights and anti-discrimination legislation, appearing at rallies and legislative hearings around the country. In addition, she actively manages her Martina Youth Foundation for underprivileged children. But on the rare occasions when she steps onto a court to play an exhibition game, the fire is still there. "Martina revolutionized the game by her superb athleticism and aggressiveness, not to mention her outspokenness and her candor," Chris Evert once said of her old rival and friend. Evert, in fact, was quick on the defense when Martina publicly announced her lesbianism in the 1980s. "I would tell my children to look at the way she conducts herself on the court," Evert told Sports Illustrated. "Look at how she fights for every point. And look how honest she is with people. I guess a lot of parents aren't ready for that yet." Honesty has always been high on Navratilova's list of virtues, and it is one she learned early on, on a gritty clay court in Prague as her stepfather lobbed balls back to her. "He told me I would win at Wimbledon some day," she once recalled. "And I believed him."

Charles Bricker once spoke of the admiration Navratilova had earned "since she came to the United States in 1973, a shy, awkward woman-child desperately seeking a country and a personal identity. When that lithe, muscular figure is gone from professional tennis, it won't be the carefully tuned athletic body or her rare skills we will miss most. It will be her guts." Her outrage at injustice to anyone "would not be muzzled." Eventually, talk of her lifestyle was superseded by talk of her honesty.


Blue, Adrienne. Martina Unauthorized. London: Gollancz, 1995.

Kindred, Dave. "Earning a Piece of History," in The Sporting News. Vol. 218, no. 2. July 11, 1994.

Kort, Michele. "Martina Navratilova," in Working Woman. Vol. 21, no. 11. November–December, 1996.

Navratilova, Martina, with George Vecsey. Martina. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985.

Shmerler, Cindy. "The End of an Era," in Women's Sports and Fitness. Vol. 16, no. 8. November–December, 1994.

suggested reading:

Faulkner, Sandra, with Judy Nelson. Love Match: Nelson vs. Navratilova. NY: Birch Lane, 1993.

Kirkpatrick, Curry. "The Passion of a Champion," in Newsweek. November 14, 1994, p. 58.

Norman Powers , writer-producer, Chelsea Lane Productions, New York