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Martina Navratilova

Champion Tennis Player

In this video

In this interview, champion tennis player Martina Navratilova talks about her life in Communist Czechoslovakia, her heartbreaking choice to defect to the United States where she became a target of criticism brought on by her outspoken attitude, and her unstoppable drive to become the best tennis player.
Martina Navratilova is a tennis legend. Born and raised in Communist Czechoslovakia, she defected to the United States at 18 years old, leaving her family behind in order to pursue her career without the bounds of the government's restrictions on when and where she was allowed to play. Once in the States, Navratilova was faced with the media's negative reaction to her outspoken, confident nature, as well as the complexities of being a gay woman, which meant losing sponsorships.   Still, Navratilova dominated. Arguably the best tennis player to ever step on the court, she amassed an unmatched number of professional records over the course of a career that spanned an amazing four decades. She has won 59 Grand Slam crowns, a record 9 Wimbledon singles champions. As she says, "The ball doesn't know how old I am," so even when Navratilova retired in 1994, she continued to play doubles until 2006. She was 50 years old.   As one of the first openly gay sports figures, Navratilova has been a vocal advocate for equal rights and a strong supporter of many charities benefitting the LGBT community. She has received numerous awards from many of the most influential organizations within the LGBT community.

More From Martina

Bad Math
In her first year of high school, tennis champion Martina Navratilova's math teacher suggested Navratilova study harder since she likely would not have a career in tennis.

My Parents' Support
Martina Navratilova talks about her parents' unconditional encouragement when it came to tennis.

The Only Good Thing About Communism
In this interview, tennis champion Martina Navratilova talks about what she saw as the only good aspect of living in a Communist state: the gender equality of the athletic culture.

Oranges and Ham Sandwiches
When tennis champion Martina Navratilova first came to America from Czechoslovakia, she was amazed by the small things like oranges on the roads and the amount of ham in a sandwich.

The "Scandal" of Being Gay
For Martina Navratilova coming out could not only negatively affect her tennis sponsorships--as it had just recently with Billie Jean King--but it could also impact her U.S. citizenship. 

Wimbledon Gold Standard
For most tennis players, Wimbledon is the end-all-be-all and Martina Navratilova had wanted to win the Grand Slam since she was a little girl. By 1978, she reached her goal.

Navratilova vs. Evert
Although the press wanted to create a controversy between Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, there never really was an much tension as the press would have you think. 

Model Athlete and Gay Woman
Champion tennis player Martina Navratilova understands the impact that professional athletes can have on the children who look up to them, whether it's an impact on the court or in everyday life.

Impact of the Press
As a young tennis player new to America, Martina Navratilova had no idea what she was up against when it came to the press criticizing her every move.

Advice to Young Girls
In this interview segment, tennis champion Martina Navratilova shares her best piece of advice with the next generation of young women: do what feels right.

The Gay Athlete
When NBA player Jason Collins came out, Martina Navratilova was thrilled to see a male professional athlete making a bold move in tearing down negative stigmas of sexuality.

Feminist? Duh.
Martina Navratilova explains why she's a feminist and why you probably are, too.