Martina Navratilova is a retired American tennis player, who put together arguably the most complete career ever seen in the sport.
With her incredible exploits in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, Navratilova took the game to previously unseen heights. She also spawned a fitness revolution in tennis with her diligent off-court training and nutrition regimen, and today she is seen as the perfect role model for any aspiring player.
Best finish at each of the four Grand Slams:
Australian Open: 3-time Champion (1981, 1983, 1985)
Navratilova was an obsessive attacker who spent a majority of her time at the net. She used her lefty serve and crisp volleys to control rallies and time away from her opponents.
Navratilova had a one-handed backhand, which she sliced on most occasions. She didn't incorporate a topspin backhand into her repertoire until 1981, but when she did she turned it into a reliable tool.
The American's serve was quick and effective, and was the starting point of most of her attacking forays. Her backhand volley is considered to be one of the best in the history of tennis, and her forehand volley also improved significantly as her career progressed.
Navratilova's fitness and strength helped her overpower most of her opponents, especially after she started doing weight training the early 80s. She had incredible stamina and patience, which she used to good effect in long matches and pressure situations.
Navratilova's baseline play was a bit of a weakness, as she lacked the consistency to stay with the baseline grinders of her time. Her forehand could also become error-prone on occasion, giving away free points to her opponents.
Significant Martina Navratilova records
Navratilova's career is almost like a treasure trove of records. Here are the most significant of those:
- Most Grand Slam titles (singles, doubles and mixed doubles combined) in the Open Era: 59
- Most singles titles in the Open Era: 167
- Most doubles titles in the Open Era: 177
- 4th highest Grand Slam singles titles won: 18
- Most consecutive Grand Slam semifinals reached: 19
- One of only three players ever (and only the second in the Open Era) to complete the Career Boxed Set: winning all the 4 Grand Slams in singles, doubles and mixed doubles
- Best single-season winning percentage of all time, by a male or a female: 98.9% in 1983 (86-1 record)
- Longest winning streak of all time, by a male or a female: 74 matches
- Most Wimbledon singles titles won, by a male or a female: 9
- Most WTA year-end championships won: 8
- Only player, male or female, to win at least 8 different tournaments 7 or more times
Navratilova was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Her parents Mirek and Jana Subertova got divorced when Martina was three, after which she and Jana moved to Revince.
In 1962 Jana married Miroslav Navratil, whose last name Martina later took on as her own. Martina started playing tennis at the age of four, and was coached in the early years by her stepfather Miroslav.
In 1975, at the age of 18, Navratilova made the decision to defect from Czechoslovakia to the US. She received a green card immediately, and gained full American citizenship in 1981.
Navratilova came out as bisexual in 1981, and later in life said she identifies as lesbian. She has been involved in a couple of long-term relationships, first with Nancy Lieberman and then with Judy Nelson. She is currently with Julia Lemigova; the two got married in December 2014.
Navratilova is, in many ways, the very personification of tennis. She won everything there is to win in the sport, achieving perfection in more than one technical aspect. She dominated so thoroughly, and for so long, that at times it was difficult to look beyond her when anyone mentioned the word 'tennis'.
Her commitment to fitness has been well-documented; she was the one who pioneered strength training, and helped make tennis the physical sport that it is today. She forced her peers as well as her successors to push the boundaries of their limits and dedicate themselves fully to fitness, spawning an exciting new phase in the evolution of tennis.
Navratilova's multi-faceted skills and longevity also helped bring doubles tennis into the spotlight. By continuing to play, and excel, well into her 40s, she served as an inspiration for millions of people around the world, including those who didn't watch tennis.
The American has been a strong advocate for equality, campaigning for LGBT rights ever since she came out. She has also frequently spoken out on behalf of WTA's players, and has helped in ensuring equal prize money and better playing conditions for women.
Navratilova has often been called a force of nature, and most would agree that that phrase does perfect justice to her abilities and achievements. She was a one-woman army throughout her 30-year-long career, and continues to be so even after her retirement.
Social media presence:
Martina Navratilova Instagram: @martinanavratilova