Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.


The Gay Athlete

The Gay Athlete

More From Martina

In this video

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.

Martina's Biography

Athletic Upbringing:"On the weekends, we would go either for a walk, or a hike, or swim in the river, or even go cross-country skiing in the winter. I rode my bike around town everywhere or I ran to the tennis or to school. I was always running or walking very fast."
Grandma On The Court:Martina's grandmother was a ranked player in Czechoslovakia.
Train, Run, Tram, Run:With no car, getting to tennis practice with no small feat. She had to "run to the train station with my tennis gear and my school gear…get on another train all the way to Prague...then go on a tram…then a bus…then walk, play tennis, and reverse. So I was in great shape just to get to the tennis court."
Domestically Skill or Challenged:"Domestically skilled surprisingly enough."

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.

Related Videos

Elaine Chao
Elaine Chao
24th U.S. Secretary of Labor

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Elaine Chao came to the United States as a child and has had an unwavering faith in the American dream ever since. From knowing no English to becoming the ...

Indra Nooyi
Indra Nooyi
Chairman & CEO, PepsiCo

Indra Nooyi has led PepsiCo’s global strategy for over a decade. In 2013, she was named the third most powerful woman in business by Fortune. Seven years running, she’s...

Elizabeth Gore
Elizabeth Gore
Activist & Cause Marketer

Elizabeth Gore grew up working on her family's cattle ranch in Texas. Now the Vice President of Global Partnerships for the United Nations Foundation, she is currently managing...

Asenath Andrews
Asenath Andrews

Asenath Andrews founded and is currently principal of the Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit, a school for teenagers who are pregnant or parents. With studies illuminating how m...