One of the most incredible athletes and cultural figures in recent history, Martina Navratilova is arguably the most dominant tennis player to ever step foot on the courts. Born October 18, 1956, in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Martina had a burning desire that she first articulated at the age of 8: to be the best player in the world. She never let go of that dream and eventually became the only player to win a Grand Slam in four different decades, including a curtain-closing US Open victory at age 49. Martina played tennis with a singular energy, passion and emotion.
To this day, Martina, more than anyone else is known for taking women’s tennis to an entirely new level with her speed, aggression, and fitness. She has left an enduring legacy of excellence highlighted by 59 Grand Slam titles, including a record 9 Wimbledon singles championships, as well as an insurmountable 344 total tournament victories. Over the years, Martina has received numerous accolades, including “Tour Player of the Year,” the Associated Press “Female Athlete of the Year,” a listing on ESPN’s “Top 40 Athletes of All Time,” and an induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame as “the game’s most prolific winner.”
But every bit as important as Martina’s success on the tennis court was her courage outside the lines. A lifelong crusader for individual freedom, at age 18, Martina took the bold step of leaving her native land to seek asylum in the United States. By 1981, she had become a U.S. citizen. As one of the first openly gay sports figures, Martina has spent much of her career overcoming prejudices and stereotypes. Since coming out, Martina has been a vocal advocate for equal rights and a strong supporter of many charities, which directly benefit the LGBT community.
In 2010, Martina faced her toughest opponent – breast cancer. It was treated successfully with a lumpectomy and radiation. She approached the cancer treatments as she did her tennis opponents with a mixture of determination and raw power. Martina is now an advocate for preventive screening and regular checkups. Martina continues to play tournaments and work in a wide range of areas. She serves as Health & Fitness Ambassador for AARP and recently raced alongside NASCAR drivers in the AARP Drive to End Hunger. Her work as analyst and commentator for Tennis Channel takes her around the world every year to cover the Grand Slams.
Martina’s strong voice and open views make her a highly sought-after speaker at events and presentations for international companies and organizations. Whether the topic is fitness or politics, human equality or animal rights, she remains refreshingly candid and admirably committed.
Martina supports Vote Climate U.S. PAC’s efforts to elect candidates to get us off fossil fuels and put a price on carbon, to help ensure a bright future for our children, our community and our world.
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