She has 167 career singles titles to her name, including 18 Grand Slam titles. Add another 177 Doubles titles, which include a whopping 31 Grand Slam titles. There’s more to Martina Navratilova than just statistics. And as she celebrates her 60th birthday, let’s look at unknown facts about the most versatile tennis player the planet has ever seen.
1.) Martina was born to Miroslav Subert and Jana Subert in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her mother was an accomplished gymnast, tennis player and ski instructor. Martina was just 3 years old when her parents divorced. Her mother remarried in 1962 and Martina took on the surname of her stepfather Navratil and became Martina Navratilova. Her father Miroslav Subert committed suicide when she was just 8 years of age.
2.) Navratilova started playing tennis at the tender age of four, and started playing in regular competitions by the age of seven. She could have furthered her career in ice hockey and skiing as well, but chose tennis instead. By the age of 15, she became the Czech National Champion.
3.) Martina’s grandmother was a tennis player who had represented Czechoslovakia before the World War 2. Martina picked up the game by spending a lot of time whacking the wall, with her grandmother’s wooden racket, while watching her mother play during her spare time.
4.) In 1982, Navratilova had a win loss ratio of 90:3, thus becoming the first female athlete in the history of the sport to win 1 million USD in cash prize.
5.) The third “Battle of the Sexes” was played between Martina Navratilova and Jimmy Connors in Nevada, in the year 1992. Connors beat Martina 7-5, 6-2 in that match.
6.) In 2000, she was inducted in to the “International Tennis Hall of Fame.” She has won 18 singles 31 doubles and 10 mixed doubles Grand Slam titles. Billie Jean King said that Navratilova was the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player to have ever lived.
7.) Navratilova became the oldest ever Grand Slam champion, when she won the Mixed Doubles at the 2006 US Open partnering countrymate Bob Bryan. She was 49 years and 11 months old when she did so.
8.) In 1981, shortly after becoming a United States citizen, Navratilova gave an interview to New York Daily News sports reporter Steve Goldstein, coming out as bisexual. She is currently married to Julia Lemigova of Russia.
9.) Off the tennis court, Martina has tried her hand at dancing, being part of the 14th season of “Dancing With the Stars”, though she and her partner Tony Dovolani were eliminated in the first round itself. She also appeared in series 8 of “I’m a celebrity… Get Me Out of Here”, where she finished runner-up to Joe Swash.
10.) In the year 1975, Navratilova was stripped of her Czech citizenship, because she had asked the United States for political asylum and was granted temporary residency. She had done so because the Czech Sports authority had limited her travel way too much. In the year 1981, she became a United States citizen, and got back her Czech citizenship in January 2008.
11.) Martina has written three mystery thriller novels with author Liz Nickles: The Total Zone (1994), Breaking Point (1996) and Killer Instinct 1997).
Rahul is a tennis enthusiast and loves to write about sports in general. His inspirations are Rafael Nadal, Michael Phelps and Roger Federer.