MAKERS Profile

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.

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