Martina Navratilova is, in the words of Billie Jean King, “one of the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who’s ever lived”, taking women’s tennis to a new level with her fitness, speed, determination and agility.
In 1975, at the age of 18 years old and after losing the US Open semi-final, Martina walked into the US Immigration and Naturalization Service in New York City and informed them she wanted to defect from Soviet controlled communist Czechoslovakia.
Martina’s on-court tennis achievements speak for themselves, winning a total of 59 Grand Slam titles (18 singles, 31 ladies doubles and 10 mixed doubles) in an outstanding career. Martina is the only tennis player to have spent more than 200 weeks as world number one in both singles and doubles. She holds the record of nine Wimbledon singles titles, comprising half of her 18 Grand Slam singles titles. In women’s doubles she won 31 Grand Slam titles complemented by 10 mixed doubles titles.
Martina is one of only three women to win singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at each of the four Grand Slams, being the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Her last Grand Slam victory was in the 2006 US Open mixed doubles, a month shy of her 50th birthday. In her 33-year professional tennis career Martina won 354 titles, 167 of them in singles.
Her decades long rivalry with Chris Evert is considered one of the greatest in sports history, with Martina holding a 43-37 advantage. Off-court, they continue to be best of friends!
Since retiring at almost 50, Martina has forged a career in other fields and also provides her articulate, intelligent and sometimes outspoken commentary on the Tennis Channel, BBC’s Wimbledon coverage, Amazon Prime Video and SKY. Martina now spends her time between being at home and travelling the world extensively, giving speaking engagements on a variety of issues and taking part in other corporate activities.
Martina has also made a number of television appearances including I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!, Dancing with the Stars, the Netflix series The Politician, Will and Grace and in a 1983 episode of Hart to Hart.
As well as her autobiography Martina Navratilova: Being Myself, Martina has written Tennis My Way, an instruction guide in tennis for women and Shape Your Self: My 6- Step Diet and Fitness Plan to Achieve the Best Shape of Your Life. She has written about the mental health of gay American teenagers in Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing up Gay in America. Martina has also written three mystery thrillers featuring fictional former tennis champion Jordan Myles, The Total Zone, Killer Instinct and Breaking Point.
Martina was seven times named Player of the Year by the Women’s Tennis Association, the International Tennis Federation’s World Champion six times and Associated Press Female Athlete of the year twice.
For her campaigning activism, Martina was the recipient of the national Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group in the United States. In 2003 she was presented with the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2006 was given the Czech Sport Legend Award. In 2009 Martina was awarded the International Tennis Federation’s highest accolade, the Philippe Chatrier Award, for her contributions to tennis both on and off the court.
In 2016 Martina was made an Honorary Fellow of Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge. She lives on a small family farm in Florida with her wife and an assortment of animals.