Martina Navratilova

On March 4 1984, tennis legend Martina Navratilova retained her Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour Championship in New York City.

Martina beat Chris Evert 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 for her 5th overall Championship title. Martina is considered one of the best female tennis players of all time. Since 1965, she has won 59 Grand Slam crowns, including 18 singles titles and 41 doubles and mixed doubles trophies, and nine Wimbledon singles championships. In total she has won 167 singles and 177 doubles titles.

In 1981 Martina was one of the first active professional athletes in the United States to come out publicly as lesbian at the tender age of 18. Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women’s Sports Foundation, said:

“Martina was the first legitimate superstar who literally came out while she was a superstar. She exploded the barrier by putting it on the table. She basically said this part of my life doesn’t have anything to do with me as a tennis player. Judge me for who I am.”

Martina has since gone on to use her fame for good as an advocate for the LGBT community, playing a key role in fighting the American anti-gay Amendment 2 in 1992 and speaking at the gay march in Washington in 1993.

As part of her activism, she has also worked with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and has spoken strongly against the Communism that she escaped from in Czechoslovakia, the place of her birth.

Martina is currently a WTA Ambassador and frequently appears as a tennis commentator for the BBC and BT Sport.

Having fought breast cancer in 2010, she was diagnosed again with breast cancer and Stage 1 throat cancer in January 2023. Following treatment she announced that she believed herself to be ‘cancer-free’ in a tv interview in March the same year.

In recent years Martina has caused controversy for some by being outspoken about keeping sports single sex, based on biology and not gender identity:

“I admire people that go against the grain. But my North Star is fairness, and male bodies and women’s sports are not fair, and that’s my North Star. And I cannot budge from that.”

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