(October 18, 1956 - living) Czech Rep. - U.S.A.
Pro tennis champion and Activist
Born in Krkonose near Prague, Navratilova escaped from a difficult family situation in her native Czechoslovakia by playing tennis. She was one of the best left-handed tennis woman players. She won the Czech national championship in 1972, at age 15.
She first visited the USA in 1973. At the age of 19, frustrated by the Czechoslovakian Tennis Federation's interference with her career, she defected to the United States; she became a U.S. Citizen on July 21st, 1981, after a five years statutory period - homosexuality was not only illegal in many States but could be the sole grounds for denying citizenship. Nevertheless, she was granted citizenship after declaring that she was "bisexual"... (she now holds dual citizen in the U.S. and the Czech Republic)
In 1978 she began a relationship with Rita Mae Brown (1944 - ), an American activist and writer, but the publicity made her resign as head of the Women's Tennis Association. In 1980, she was inducted into the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame. In 1981, Navratilova gave an interview to the New York Daily News in which she came out as bisexual.
When she retired from singles in 1994 she had won 167 singles titles including a record nine at Wimbledon. Her victory in the 1995 Wimbledon mixed doubles extended her total of Wimbledon titles to 19, one short of Billie Jean King's record.
She later had an affair with Judy Nelson, who later sued her for palimony, and gained admiration by routinely climbing into the crowd at tennis games to snog her lover after winning matches. Her autobiography, Martina, was published in 1985.
She stepped up her campaigning for lesbian and gay rights. She also filed a law suit against the enactment of the homophobic Amendment 2 in Colorado which bans legal protection for lesbians and gays in the fields of housing and employment. Navratilova has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT civil equality for decades, and she was a featured speaker at the March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation in 1993.
Talking openly about her lesbianism has cost her lucrative sponsorships, but it has made her a beacon of courageous independence, visible far beyond the money-mad treadmill of world tennis. Nonetheless she declared,
"If I had to do it all over again, there's only one thing I would change. I would have come out a lot earlier."
Listed at # 3 in the top 500 lesbian and gay heroes in The Pink Paper, 26th. September, 1997, issue 500, page 24. In September, 1994, Navratilova was the second-ranked of only four women on Sports Illustrated 's 40th Anniversary issue Top 40 Athletes list, at #14.
She has a book contract to co-write three mystery novels; the first, The Total Zone, was published in 1995; the second, Breaking Point, was published in 1996. In October, 1995, she participated in the creation of The Rainbow Card, a VISA credit card program targeted to the lesbian and gay community. Especially since her retirement, Martina has spent much of her time supporting many non-profit groups and charitable causes.
A poll of journalists from the The Independent's sports department put Martina Navratilova #14 position in a list of the top 100 sportsmen and women of the 20th century, published on 27th. December, 1999. Navratilova now lives in Aspen, Colorado. In 2002 she made a comeback.
Navratilova, who since has identified as lesbian, had a long term relationship with Judy Nelson that ended in 1991 in a public legal battle; in 2014, Navratilova proposed to her girlfriend, Julia Lemigova, at the US Open and the two married that year.
Sources: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia & http://lgbt-history-archive.tumblr.com/