A champion on and off the court, Martina Navratilova is not only a tennis legend, but an inspirational leader who demonstrates wit, candor and sheer motivation. Arguably the best tennis player ever to step on the court, Martina amassed an unmatched number of professional records over the course of a career that spanned an amazing four decades, while proving to be an equally accomplished humanitarian and public figure. She is strongly involved with a multitude of various charitable groups and feels as though it is not just her right, but instead her duty, to speak out when she sees injustices happening in her world.
Martina Navratilova was born on October 18, 1956, in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Stifled by an oppressive communist system, Martina emigrated to the United States in 1975 to pursue her tennis career in an atmosphere of freedom. One bold move led to another and in 1981, she again displayed her unwavering courage, strength, and conviction when she openly and publicly stated that she was gay. As one of the first professional sports figures to come out, her honesty cost her millions of dollars in endorsement opportunities, but for Martina, it was a significant moment of personal truth that would later extend to the larger community and serve as a first step towards breaking down barriers.
On the court, Martina's legendary career was crowned with one record-breaking success after another. Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000, Martina has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 41 Grand Slam doubles titles, and a record 9 Wimbledon women's singles titles. Over the years, Martina has received numerous accolades, and was even named one of the “Top 40 Athletes of All-time” by Sports Illustrated for her overall contributions to the world of athletics.
But Martina’s accomplishments reach far beyond the realm of tennis. Her efforts as an advocate for the LGBT community have won her many praises and accolades. Outspoken, forthright, and unapologetic about her sexual orientation, Martina has become both a pioneer for human rights and a role model for future generations. Her Rainbow Card program and the associated non-profit Rainbow Endowment have been some of the strongest supporters of gay and lesbian charities in North America, having awarded grants in excess of $2 million dollars since their inception in 1995.
Martina has spoken out about numerous other issues as well, never one to shy away from voicing her opinion. She is an animal lover and strong supporter of women’s rights. Furthermore, Martina has done many events aimed at raising money for underprivileged children and is a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy, an organization of the highest caliber athletes from across the spectrum (including Michael Jordan and Jack Nicklaus), which helps tackle pressing social challenges through athletics. Together, they help children on almost every continent overcome limitations imposed on them by poverty, homelessness, war, and AIDS through participation and sports.
Well known for her sharp wit as well as her candid and powerful speeches, Martina has become an in demand speaker, delivering keynote addresses and in-depth commentary to those around the world. She has given inspirational and motivating speeches for many high profile companies, including Morgan Stanley, IBM, and the AARP as well as lending her voice to causes such as the 1993 March on Washington for LGBT Equal Rights as well as the Montreal World Outgames.
She is also an accomplished writer in both the realms of fiction and non-fiction, her latest book, “Shape Yourself” acting as a guide to personal fitness and healthy living. Her writing skills also helped her as a columnist for USA Today during 2000’s Wimbledon. Martina has acted as a commentator for almost every major outlet, including ESPN and CBS and provided analysis for HBO and later TNT’s coverage of Wimbledon. Her most recent endeavors have again found her doing on-air commentary, this time for both the Tennis Channel’s coverage of the French Open and the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon. In response to her commentary style, Sports Illustrated deemed that it was “nice to hear a former player commentate like an objective and candid journalist and not simply a cheerleader” and other news outlets have agreed that she adds another layer to the viewing experience. Martina is now busier then ever as she continues to be involved in the sporting world, public activism, speaking engagements, and tennis commentary for major news outlets.