"Been there, experienced it; and for Black women it’s even worse" - Martina Navratilova empathizes with Angel Reese as she breaks down over criticism

S Shahi
Martina Navratilova (L) and Angel Reese (R)
Martina Navratilova (L) and Angel Reese (R)

Martina Navratilova expressed solidarity with LSU Tigers' star player Angel Reese on her admission about the harsh criticism she has faced since leading her team to the NCAA championship in 2023.

LSU Tiger's star player opened up about the emotional toll of fame in a post-match press conference after losing 94-87 to Iowa Hawkeyes in the women’s basketball 2024 March Madness Elite Eight game on Monday, April 1.

Since leading her team to last year’s NCAA championship, Reese has faced harsh criticism, including alleged death threats and racist remarks as a result of her on-court behavior against Iowa's Caitlin Clark. However, both players have continuously shut down rumors of any supposed feud in the months following the championship.

The video of Reese’s interview was shared by an X (formerly Twitter) user who pointed out the unease in America with women competing fiercely for victory, underscoring the need for a shift in how society views and treats female athletes. The user further stated that the issue is not new as tennis legends Serena Williams and Martina Navratilova have also faced similar criticism in their careers.

"The issue is that we're evaluating women as "women," for their femininity even when they're embodying a masculine role (men and women both possess a masculine and feminine aspect). Why is society uncomfortable with women acting out masculine roles?" the user wrote.
"The answer is actually quite simple: the masculine pattern of an athletic competitor is as a warrior and warriors die. Thousands of years of human history have been geared towards men dying to protect women. For a woman to "recklessly" compete upends that, even in a proxy form of competitive athletics. Deep in our subconscious, we correctly recognize that women shouldn't be warriors," the user added.

This sentiment was echoed by Martina Navratilova, who replied to the video expressing sympathy for Reese.

"It’s normal. When you say a guy is competitive- it’s a plus. When you say a woman is competitive, it’s said with a sneer. Been there, experienced it. And for black women it’s even worse. My heart goes out to Angel Reese," Navratilova wrote.

Martina Navratilova made honest admission about how coming out as gay affected her financially

Martina Navratilova at the 2023 WTA Finals
Martina Navratilova at the 2023 WTA Finals

Martina Navratilova previously discussed the repercussions of publicly coming out as gay.

Renowned as one of tennis's greatest players with the most Grand Slam titles in the Open era (18 singles, 31 women's doubles, and 10 mixed doubles titles). However, despite her athletic prowess, she encountered challenges in marketing herself to a wider audience, often attributed to her disclosure of being a lesbian in 1981.

During her appearance on the 'On with Kara Swisher' podcast in November 2023, the Czech-American revealed that sponsors' hesitation may have cost her significant endorsement opportunities, potentially missing out on millions as a result.

"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 said.

Navratilova acknowledged receiving numerous foreign endorsements and shared an agent’s anecdote.

"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."