Martina Navratilova

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Martina Navrátilová
Country Flag of United States United States
Residence Nokomis, Florida
Date of birth October 18, 1956
Place of birth Řevnice, Czechoslovakia
Height 5 ft 8 in (173 cm)
Weight 145 lb (65 kg)
Turned Pro 1973
Retired 2004
Plays Left; One-handed backhand
Career Prize Money U.S. $21,400,871 (3rd in all-time rankings)
Career record: 1440-213
Career titles: 167 (all-time record for men or women)
Highest ranking: No. 1 ( July 10, 1978)
Grand Slam results
Australian Open W 1981 • 83 • 85
French Open W 1982 • 84
Wimbledon W 1978 • 79 • 82–87 • 90
U.S. Open W 1983 • 84 • 86 • 87
Career record: 667-102
Career titles: 178 (all-time record for men or women)
Highest ranking: No. 1 ( September 10, 1984)

Infobox last updated on: September 10, 2006.

Martina Navratilova (born October 18, 1956, in Prague, Czechoslovakia) is a former World No. 1 woman tennis player. Billie Jean King said about Navratilova in 2006, "She's the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who's ever lived." Tennis writer Steve Flink, in his book The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century, named her as the second best female player of the 20th century, directly behind Steffi Graf. As a serve and volley player, her best surface was grass, although she did capture at least two Grand Slam singles titles on each surface and won a career Grand Slam in singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles.

Originally from Czechoslovakia, she defected to the United States in 1975 and became a U.S. citizen in 1981. During her career, she won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 41 Grand Slam doubles titles (31 women's doubles and 10 mixed doubles). She won the women's singles title at Wimbledon a record 9 times.

Tennis career

Navratilova was born Martina Šubertová in 1956. Her parents divorced when she was three, and in 1962 her mother Jana married Miroslav Navrátil, who became her first tennis coach. Martina then took the name of her stepfather (adding the feminine suffix "ová"), thus becoming Martina Navrátilová ( IPA: [ˈmarcɪna ˈnavra:cɪlova:] ).

In 1972 at the age of 15, Navratilova won the Czech republic national tennis championship. In 1973, aged 16, she turned professional. She won her first professional singles title in Orlando, Florida in 1974.

A left-handed serve-and-volleyer with superb volleying skills, Navratilova raised the women’s game to new levels with her power and aggression. She struggled with her weight in the early years of her career and was at one point unflatteringly labelled the “Great Wide Hope” by journalist Bud Collins. Her determination, however, to reach the top of the game saw her embark on a punishing routine to get herself into shape, assisted by basketball's Nancy Lieberman. Eventually, extreme levels of fitness and conditioning were hallmarks of her game. She also was quick to adopt graphite racquet technology.

Navratilova was a finalist at two Grand Slam singles tournaments in 1975. She lost in the final of the Australian Open to Evonne Goolagong Cawley and in the final of the French Open to Chris Evert. After losing to Evert in the semifinals of that year's U.S. Open, the 18-year-old Navratilova went to the offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in New York City and informed them that she wished to defect from Communist Czechoslovakia. Within a month, she received a green card.

Navratilova won her first Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon in 1978, where she defeated Evert in three sets in the final and captured the World No. 1 ranking for the first time. She beat Evert in the final again to successfully defend her Wimbledon title in 1979.

In 1981, Navratilova won her third Grand Slam singles title by defeating Evert in the final of the Australian Open. Navratilova also reached the final of the U.S. Open, where she lost a third set tiebreak to Tracy Austin. Navratilova won both Wimbledon and the French Open in 1982.

Following adoption of Lieberman's exercise plan and using graphite racquets, Navratilova became the most dominant player in women's tennis. After losing in the fourth round of the first Grand Slam event of 1983 - the French Open - she captured the year's three remaining Grand Slam titles (the Australian Open was held in December at that time). Navratilova’s loss at the French Open was her only singles defeat during that year, during which she established an 86-1 record. Her winning percentage was the best ever for a professional tennis player. During 1982, 1983, and 1984, Navratilova lost a total of only six singles matches.

Navratilova won the 1984 French Open, enabling her to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously. Her accomplishment was declared a "Grand Slam" by Philippe Chatrier, who was the president of the International Tennis Federation. Many tennis observers, however, insisted that it was not a true Grand Slam because the titles had not been won in a single calendar year.

Navratilova extended her Grand Slam singles tournament winning streak to a record-equalling six following wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She entered the 1984 Australian Open with a chance of winning all four titles in the same year. In the semifinals, however, Helena Suková ended Navratilova's 74-match winning streak (a record for a professional) 1-6, 6-3, 7-5.

The left-handed Navratilova succeeded in winning all four Grand Slam women’s doubles titles in 1984, partnering right-handed Pam Shriver, a tall and talented player whose most noted stroke was a slice forehand, a virtually unheard of shot in the game today. This was part of a record 109-match winning streak that the pair achieved between 1983 and 1985. (Navratilova was ranked the World No. 1 doubles player for a period of over three years in the 1980s.)

In the three years from 1985 to 1987, Navratilova reached the women’s singles final at all 11 Grand Slam tournaments held during those years, winning six of them (and extending her run of triumphs at Wimbledon to a record six consecutive).

A new threat to the 30-year old Navratilova's dominance, in the form of 17-year old German player Steffi Graf, emerged on the scene in 1987 when she beat Navratilova in the final of the French Open, whipping forehands and sliced backhand passing shots out of Navratilova’s reach. Navratilova beat Graf in the 1987 Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals (and at the U.S. Open became only the third player in the Open Era to win the women’s singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles at the same event). But Graf's consistent play throughout 1987 allowed her to obtain the World No. 1 before the end of the year. (Graf eventually broke Navratilova's records of 156 consecutive weeks and 331 total weeks as the World No. 1 singles player but never came close to breaking Navratilova's record 167 singles titles as Graf topped out at 107.) In 1988, Graf won all four Grand Slam singles titles, beating Navratilova 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 in the Wimbledon final along the way. In 1989, Graf and Navratilova met in the finals of both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, with Graf winning both encounters in three sets. Despite the significant age difference between the two players, Navratilova won 9 of the 18 career singles matches with Graf and 5 of the 9 Grand Slam singles matches with her.

Navratilova's final Grand Slam singles triumph was in 1990. Graf lost in the Wimbledon semifinals that year to Zina Garrison. In the final, the 33-year old Navratilova swept Garrison 6-4, 6-1 to claim a record-breaking ninth Wimbledon singles crown. Though that was her last Grand Slam singles title, Navratilova made two further major finals in the years that followed. In 1991, she lost in the U.S. Open final to the new World No. 1 Monica Seles, after defeating Graf in a semifinal. And then in 1994, at the age of 37, Navratilova reached the Wimbledon final, where she lost in three sets to Conchita Martinez. Soon after, she retired from the singles tour. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000.

In 2000, Navratilova returned to the tour to play doubles events, while rarely also playing singles. In her first singles performance in eight years, at Eastbourne in 2002, she beat world number 22 Tatiana Panova and lost in the next round to Daniela Hantuchova in three sets. In 2003, she won the mixed doubles titles at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, partnering Leander Paes. This made her the oldest ever Grand Slam champion (aged 46 years, 8 months). The Australian Open victory made her only the third player in history to complete a “boxed set” of Grand Slam titles by winning the women’s singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles at all four slams. The Wimbledon win allowed her to equal Billie Jean King’s record of 20 Wimbledon titles (in singles women's doubles, and mixed doubles combined) and extended her overall number of Grand Slam titles to 58 (second only to Margaret Court, who won 62). Despite being criticized for receiving a wildcard, Navratilova decisively won a singles match in straight sets at the first round of Wimbledon in 2004, aged 47 years and 8 months, to make her the oldest player to win a professional singles match in the open era. She also won the first set of her second round match, but lost the match (to Gisela Dulko), and later noted that the angle of the sun, as the evening match progressed, made it very difficult to serve and volley.

Over the course of her career, Navratilova won 167 top-level singles titles (more than any other player in the Open Era) and 177 doubles titles. Her most recent title in women's doubles (a Tier I event) came on August 21, 2006, at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada, where she won the women's doubles event partnering Nadia Petrova. Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles titles during her career: 9 at Wimbledon, 4 at the U.S. Open, 3 at the Australian Open, and 2 at the French Open. Her overall record in 67 Grand Slam events was 306-49 .862 (120-14 at Wimbledon, 89-17 at the U.S. Open, 51-11 at the French Open, and 46-7 at the Australian Open).

On July 5, 2006, Navratilova announced that Wimbledon 2006 would be her last and by the end of the 2006 season, she would retire from doubles play. On July 6, 2006, Navratilova played her last ever match at Wimbledon, losing in the mixed doubles to the titleists, Israel's Andy Ram and Russia's Vera Zvonareva, in the third round. Earlier on the same day, Navratilova lost her women's doubles quarterfinal match against Chinese fourth seeds Zi Yan and Jie Zheng, also the titleists. Navratilova capped off her career by winning the mixed doubles title at the 2006 U.S. Open with Bob Bryan, her 41st Grand Slam doubles title (31 in women's doubles and 10 in mixed doubles) and 177th overall. The only Grand Slam mixed doubles title that eluded her since her return was the French Open.

Personal life

In the 1980s, Navratilova came out as bisexual. She later clarified that she was a lesbian. In an interview with, she said, "It was a little difficult because I had previously been with a guy. But once I had a lesbian experience I realized that although I liked guys and still do like guys emotionally I could only be attached to women."

In her autobiography, Being Myself, Navratilova says that she had romantic crushes on teachers of both sexes and, later, felt strongly attracted to other female tennis players. But she did not realize that these attractions had a sexual dimension until she was 18 years old, when she had her first gay relationship.

However, her parents — especially her father — were disturbed by the news of her sexual orientation, which her father characterized as a "sickness." During one of the many arguments that followed Navratilova's coming out, her father said that he would have preferred for her to have been a prostitute. Navratilova said she feared her sexual orientation might disrupt her application for American citizenship following her defection from Czechoslovakia, a country in which, she points out, "gays were sent to insane asylums and lesbians never came out of the closet."

In 1981, shortly after being granted U.S. citizenship, Navratilova came out publicly about her sexual orientation. From 1983 to 1991, Navratilova had a long-term relationship with partner Judy Nelson. Their split in 1991 included a much-publicized legal wrangle. Navratilova was featured in a WITA (Women's International Tennis Association) calendar, shot by Jean Renard with her Wimbledon trophies and Nelson's children in the background.

Navratilova also made a humorous guest appearance on the gay-themed NBC sitcom Will & Grace in a 2000 episode in which a flashback revealed that she had been a heterosexual until a 1985 relationship with Karen Walker turned her gay .

Navratilova released an autobiography, simply entitled "Martina", in 1985 and also co-wrote three mystery novels in the 1990s.

Activism and politics

Navratilova and Mark Tewksbury read the Declaration of Montreal at the opening ceremonies of the World Outgames.
Navratilova and Mark Tewksbury read the Declaration of Montreal at the opening ceremonies of the World Outgames.

When not playing tennis, Navratilova is involved with various charities that benefit animal rights, underprivileged children, and gay rights. She filed a lawsuit against Amendment 2, a 1992 ballot proposition in Colorado designed to deny legal benefits to gays and lesbians. In the same year, she spoke before the National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights.

In 2000, she was the recipient of National Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian activist/lobbying group.

A vegetarian, Navratilova has appeared in ad campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In an April 2006 interview, she said she had recently begun eating fish again because she found it hard to get enough protein while on the road.

She has also spoken out on a number of volatile political issues, including tort/litigation reform, but perhaps her most consistent theme - aside from gay and lesbian rights - has been her unstinting opposition to Communism, and unrepentant opposition to the former Eastern Bloc power structure that she believes compelled her to flee her native Czechoslovakia.

For example, on a recent segment of the Leonard Lopate Show-in which she was promoting her new fitness training book-she denounced the Soviet Union's control over Czechoslovakia, maintaining that she refuses to speak Russian to this day because of the Soviet Union's former hegemony over Eastern Europe. When questioned by the host about her fellow Czechs' reaction to her defection she averred that they welcomed it, and that their hostility was directed towards the Communist regime in power, not her.

"Whenever I hear some say, 'Oh, Communism isn't bad,' I say, 'Why don't you live in in a Communist country if you think it's so great?'" .

Navratilova was a guest on CNN's Connie Chung Tonight show on July 17, 2002. During the show, Chung quoted a German newspaper which quoted Navratilova as saying:

"The most absurd part of my escape from the unjust system is that I have exchanged one system that suppresses free opinion for another. The Republicans in the U.S. manipulate public opinion and sweep controversial issues under the table. It's depressing. Decisions in America are based solely on the question of how much money will come out of it and not on the questions of how much health, morals or environment suffer as a result."

Navratilova said that the remarks were in reference to what she perceived as a trend of centralization of government power and a loss of personal freedom. In the discussion that followed, Chung questioned, "Can I be honest with you? I can tell you that when I read this, I have to tell you that I thought it was un-American, unpatriotic. I wanted to say, go back to Czechoslovakia. You know, if you don't like it here, this a country that gave you so much, gave you the freedom to do what you want."

Navratilova responded, "And I'm giving it back. This is why I speak out. When I see something that I don't like, I'm going to speak out because you can do that here. And again, I feel there are too many things happening that are taking our rights away." She went on to say that athletes have a responsibility to speak out when things aren't right.


  • The character Martina Zoana Mel Navratilova from the anime series Slayers was named after her.
  • When Navratilova celebrated her 50th birthday on October 12, 2006, she received a birthday cake made at Charm City Cakes by a crew led by owner Duff Goldman. The cake construction and presentation were shown on an episode of the reality TV show Ace of Cakes, first aired on March 15, 2007.

Grand Slam singles tournaments

Wins (18)

Year Championship Opponent in Final Score in Final
1978 Wimbledon Flag of United States Chris Evert 2-6, 6-4, 7-5
1979 Wimbledon (2) Flag of United States Chris Evert 6-4, 6-4
1981 Australian Open Flag of United States Chris Evert 6-7, 6-4, 7-5
1982 French Open Flag of United States Andrea Jaeger 7-6, 6-1
1982 Wimbledon (3) Flag of United States Chris Evert 6-1, 3-6, 6-2
1983 Wimbledon (4) Flag of United States Andrea Jaeger 6-0, 6-3
1983 U.S. Open Flag of United States Chris Evert 6-1, 6-3
1983 Australian Open (2) Flag of United States Kathy Jordan 6-2, 7-6
1984 French Open (2) Flag of United States Chris Evert 6-3, 6-1
1984 Wimbledon (5) Flag of United States Chris Evert 7-6, 6-2
1984 U.S. Open (2) Flag of United States Chris Evert 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
1985 Wimbledon (6) Flag of United States Chris Evert 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
1985 Australian Open (3) Flag of United States Chris Evert 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
1986 Wimbledon (7) Flag of Czech Republic Hana Mandliková 7-6, 6-3
1986 U.S. Open (3) Flag of Czech Republic Helena Suková 6-3, 6-2
1987 Wimbledon (8) Flag of Germany Steffi Graf 7-5, 6-3
1987 U.S. Open (4) Flag of Germany Steffi Graf 7-6, 6-1
1990 Wimbledon (9) Flag of United States Zina Garrison-Jackson 6-4, 6-1

Runner-ups (14)

Year Championship Opponent in Final Score in Final
1975 Australian Open Flag of Australia Evonne Goolagong Cawley 6-3, 6-2
1975 French Open Flag of United States Chris Evert 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
1981 U.S. Open Flag of United States Tracy Austin 1-6, 7-6, 7-6
1982 Australian Open Flag of United States Chris Evert 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
1985 French Open Flag of United States Chris Evert 6-3, 6-7, 7-5
1985 U.S. Open Flag of Czech Republic Hana Mandliková 7-6, 1-6, 7-6
1986 French Open Flag of United States Chris Evert 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
1987 Australian Open Flag of Czech Republic Hana Mandliková 7-5, 7-6
1987 French Open Flag of Germany Steffi Graf 6-4, 4-6, 8-6
1988 Wimbledon Flag of Germany Steffi Graf 5-7, 6-2, 6-1
1989 Wimbledon Flag of Germany Steffi Graf 6-2, 6-7, 6-1
1989 U.S. Open Flag of Germany Steffi Graf 3-6, 7-5, 6-1
1991 U.S. Open Flag of Yugoslavia Monica Seles 7-6, 6-1
1994 Wimbledon Flag of Spain Conchita Martinez 6-4, 3-6, 6-3

Performance timeline

Tournament 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995- 2003 2004 Career SR
Australian Open A A F A A / A A A SF W F W SF W NH F SF QF A A A A A A A 3 / 10
French Open QF QF F A A A A A QF W 4R W F F F 4R A A A A A 1R A 1R 2 / 13
Wimbledon 3R 1R QF SF QF W W SF SF W W W W W W F F W QF SF SF F A 2R 9 / 23
U.S. Open 1R 3R SF 1R SF SF SF 4R F QF W W F W W QF F 4R F 2R 4R A A A 4 / 21
SR 0 / 3 0 / 3 0 / 4 0 / 2 0 / 2 1 / 2 1 / 2 0 / 3 1 / 4 2 / 4 3 / 4 3 / 4 2 / 4 2 / 3 2 / 4 0 / 4 0 / 3 1 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 2 0 / 0 0 / 2 18 / 67

NH = tournament not held.

A = did not participate in the tournament.

SR = the ratio of the number of Grand Slam singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played.

Note: The Australian Open was held twice in 1977, in January and December.

Grand Slam doubles titles

Women's doubles titles (31)

Year Championship Partner
1975 French Open (w/ Chris Evert)

1976 Wimbledon (w/ Chris Evert)

1977 U.S. Open (w/ Betty Stove)

1978 U.S. Open (w/ Billie Jean King)

1979 Wimbledon (w/ Billie Jean King)

1980 U.S. Open (w/ Billie Jean King)

1980 Australian Open ( Dec.) (w/ Betsy Nagelsen)

1981 Wimbledon (w/ Pam Shriver)

1982 French Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1982 Wimbledon (w/ Pam Shriver)

1982 Australian Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1983 Wimbledon (w/ Pam Shriver)

1983 U.S. Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1983 Australian Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1984 French Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1984 Wimbledon (w/ Pam Shriver)

1984 U.S. Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1984 Australian Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1985 French Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1985 Australian Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1986 French Open (w/ Andrea Temesvari)

1986 Wimbledon (w/ Pam Shriver)

1986 U.S. Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1987 Australian Open ( Jan.) (w/ Pam Shriver)

1987 French Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1987 U.S. Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1988 Australian Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1988 French Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1989 Australian Open (w/ Pam Shriver)

1989 U.S. Open (w/ Hana Mandliková)

1990 U.S. Open (w/ Gigi Fernandez)

Mixed doubles titles (10)

Year Championship Partner

1974 French Open (w/ Ivan Molina)

1985 French Open (w/ Heinz Gunthardt)

1985 Wimbledon (w/ Paul McNamee)

1985 U.S. Open (w/ Heinz Gunthardt)

1987 U.S. Open (w/ Emilio Sanchez)

1993 Wimbledon (w/ Mark Woodforde)

1995 Wimbledon (w/ Jonathan Stark)

2003 Australian Open (w/ Leander Paes)

2003 Wimbledon (w/Leander Paes)

2006 U.S. Open (w/ Bob Bryan)

Singles titles (167)

  • 1974 - Orlando
  • 1975 - Washington D.C., Boston, Denver, Charlotte
  • 1976 - Houston, Sydney
  • 1977 - Washington D.C., Houston, Minnesota, Detroit, Edinburgh, Charlotte
  • 1978 - Wimbledon, Virginia Slims Championships, Washington, D.C., Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Detroit, Kansas City, Eastbourne, Phoenix
  • 1979 - Wimbledon, Avon Championships, Oakland, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Richmond, Atlanta, Phoenix, Brighton
  • 1980 - Colgate Series Championships, Kansas City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Oakland, Dallas, Amelia Island, Orlando, Montreal, Richmond, Tokyo
  • 1981 - Australian Open, Avon Championships, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Dallas, Chicago, Orlando, U.S. Indoors, Tampa, Tokyo [Lions Cup]
  • 1982 - French Open, Wimbledon, Toyota Championships, Eastbourne, Canadian Open, Filderstadt, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Chicago, Kansas City, Dallas, Sydney, Hilton Head, Orlando, Brighton
  • 1983 - Australian Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Virginia Slims Championships, Eastbourne, Canadian Open, Tampa, Filderstadt, Tokyo [Lions Cup], Hilton Head, Washington, D.C., Houston, Chicago, Dallas, Orlando, Los Angeles
  • 1984 (all in 74-match winning streak) - French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Virginia Slims Championships [March], Amelia Island, Eastbourne, U.S. Indoors, Sydney, Orlando, Newport, Mahwah, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans
  • 1985 - Australian Open, Wimbledon, Virginia Slims Championships [March], Miami, Eastbourne, Sydney, Washington, D.C., Houston, Dallas, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Brisbane
  • 1986 - Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Virginia Slims Championships [March], Virginia Slims Championships [Nov], Eastbourne, Washington, D.C., Filderstadt, U.S. Indoors, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New England [Jan], New England [Nov]
  • 1987 - Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Filderstadt, Chicago
  • 1988 - Dallas, Oakland, Washington, D.C., New England, Chicago, Hilton Head, Amelia Island, Eastbourne, Filderstadt
  • 1989 - Los Angeles, Dallas, New England, Sydney, Tokyo [Pan Pacific], Birmingham, Eastbourne, Canadian Open
  • 1990 - Wimbledon, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Indian Wells, Hilton Head, Eastbourne
  • 1991 - Chicago, Palm Springs, Birmingham, Eastbourne, Oakland
  • 1992 - Chicago, U.S. Hardcourts, Los Angeles, Filderstadt
  • 1993 - Tokyo [Pan Pacific], Paris Indoors, Eastbourne, Los Angeles, Oakland
  • 1994 - Paris Indoors
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