Celebrating six decades of the trailblazer that is Martina Navratilova.
Born and raised in Czechoslovakia, Martina Navratilova knew by the age of ten that she wanted to be a Wimbledon champion. She would reach her goals and so much more – but not before she lived her incredible life in ways not even she could have dared imagine.
One of the most outspoken and successful athletes in history, Martina is described by many as the greatest tennis player of all time. Achieving an awe-inspiring 59 Grand Slam titles in a career that spanned four decades, she added 167 singles and 178 doubles titles to her name. To this day she retains many all-time sporting records.
An equally successful ambassador off the court, Martina has lived a brave and successful life by being the first openly gay tennis player. Since coming out in 1981, she has been an inspiring and passionate advocate for equal rights and a strong supporter of many charities improving the LGBT community and human rights.
It is fair to say that Martina changed sports, not only for women, but for gay athletes. Martina took the knocks and insults as an out athlete, breaking down barriers, and making it easier for the next generation to speak their truth.
Her milestone sixtieth birthday deserves to be celebrated, so let’s take a look back at some career and personal highlights…
When she was 18, in 1975, she defected to the United States so she could play tennis “when I want and where I want,” leaving behind her family and remaining stateless for six years before the United States accepted her as one of its own.
Winning her first Wimbledon title in 1978. She defeated Chris Evert in the final 2-6, 6-4, and 7-5. This victory catapulted her to WTA computer ranking No.1.
Winning her first French Open in 1982.
Doubles dominance – partnering Pam Shriver in the doubles forged a winning combination to record 109 matches winning streak between 1983 and 85.
The Sports Illustrated cover 1990.
Winning the mixed doubles title partnering Leander Paes at the 2003 Australian Open and Wimbledon. She was oldest ever major champion at 46 years 8 months old.
Just weeks after she finished her breast cancer treatment in 2010, Martina won an invitational doubles at Wimbledon with tennis partner Jana Novotna. They played against the team of Tracy Austin and Kathy Rinaldi.
A very happy ending – married with a family in 2014.
She also is a vocal supporter of marriage equality and married her longtime girlfriend, Julia Lemigova, two years ago but had to exchange vows in New York City because it wasn’t yet legal in Florida, where she lives.
In November she will be presented with the Voice for Equality Award from Equality Florida. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for a true hero.
Happy birthday, Martina!