Martina Navratilova makes honest admission about how coming out as gay affected her - "I can't say how much money I lost, but it's in millions"
Martina Navratilova recently spoke about the fallout of her coming out as gay on American journalist Kara Swisher's podcast on Thursday (November 31).
Navratilova is one of the greatest tennis players of all time, having won a whopping 59 Major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. The American legend also enjoyed impressive longevity, as her career spanned more than three decades, most of which she spent in the top echelons of the game.
Having said that, Martina Navratilova struggled to market herself to the world, which many have attributed to her coming out as a lesbian in 1981. In that context, the 67-year-old was probed on her experience with endorsements outside the tennis world while appearing on the 'On with Kara Swisher' podcast.
The American insisted in her response that she may have missed out on millions due to sponsors' ambivalence towards her, saying:
"Nobody said no, but nobody said yes either. I can't say how much money I lost by being out, but it's in millions, there's no doubt about that."
Martina Navratilova did concede, however, that she received a fair amount of sponsorship deals outside of the USA, before narrating an anecdote told to her by her agent at the time.
"I got deals in Japan, but not in America. You didn't see any commercials," she said. "And my agent back then said, 'You know, when I'm in a meeting in Madison Avenue, there's always advertisers, you throw in different names. The people get excited... when I throw in your name, the room goes silent.'"
"So, I didn't have any deals except shoes, rackets, and clothing, but even though I was #1 in '78-'79 before I was out," she added. "And when I did start dominating the tour, I still didn't get any deals in the States outside of that... Any kind of endorsements were to somebody else in Europe."
Martina Navratilova is against the inclusion of trans athletes in women's sports
Martina Navratilova came out as a lesbian in 1981, around the same time she had been granted her American citizenship (after previously competing under Czechoslovakia's flag). Having said that, she has still come under fire from the LGBT community, owing to her stance on trans activism.
The 67-year-old was admittedly disappointed after learning that a transgender powerlifter named Avi Silverberg had broken the women's bench press record in the 84+ kg category at a national tournament in the USA.
"It is happening literally everywhere…" Navratilova wrote on her X (formerly Twitter) handle in August.
Even the United States Tennis Association (USTA) couldn't escape her wrath, as their recent transgender inclusion policy was criticized by her earlier in 2023.
"Come on USTA - women’s tennis is not for failed male athletes- whatever age. This is not right and it is not fair. Would this be allowed at the US Open this month? Just with self ID? I don’t think so…," she wrote.
Outside of tennis, Navratilova also expressed displeasure with an incident where a Chicagoan mother lost custody of her child due to the latter identifying as trans.
"This is just so wrong… trans went from 0.02% of population to going through the roof, statistically speaking. We are literally talking thousands of children into thinking they are trans… and taking them away from supportive parents- insane," she wrote in August.