Martina Navratilova (born October 18, 1956) is a successful Czech-born American tennis player. She played on the WTA Tour, competing in the singles from 1973 until 1994. She won 18 major singles titles from 1978-1990 (including nine at Wimbledon including six in a row 1982-1987), 167 singles tournaments and 174 doubles tournaments including 31 in the major competitions.
She was born in Prague and grew up in the Krkonose region. When her parents separated she went with her mother to Revnice where she became interested in tennis. Her mother re-married in 1962 and her stepfather, Mirek Navratil, became her first coach. She played in her first junior tournament in 1964 and began working with George Parma. She became a professional player in 1973, reaching the quarter-finals of her first Grand Slam event. In September 1975 she took up permanent residence in the US after the tournament in New York City (she became a US citizen in 1981).
Initially unsuccessful it was not until 1978 that she won her first major title, beating Chris Evert to win the Wimbeldon women's singles. A rigorous training regime finally showed its worth from 1982 when she won fifteen singles tournaments and fourteen doubles in that year and 28 in the following year, just missing a singles Grand Slam. She had an extended and fiercely competitive on-court rivalry with Chris Evert, a clash of contrasting styles that lasted until Evert retired in 1988.
The rise of young female stars in the late 1980s broke Navratilova's dominance. In 1991 she lost in three major finals, every time to Monica Seles. Her last major Open victory was in 1993, when she beat Seles to win the Paris Open. She announced her intention to retire from the WTA Tour at the end of 1994 and in that year she still made two Open finals (Rome and Wimbledon), losing both to Conchita Martinez.
Off-court matters have often coloured Navratilova's performances. In 1980 Navratilova had announced she was bisexual in response to US media speculation about her relationship with Rita Mae Brown; this frankness cost her sponsors. From 1983 until 1991 her partner was Judy Nelson; their split was messy and included a well-publicized legal wrangle.
In 2000 Martina Navratilova was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island.
She returned to the professional tennis circuit after her retirement, and as of 2003 was playing competitively. In January 2003 she won the Australian Open mixed doubles title with Leander Paes, thus becoming only the third player (after Doris Hart and Margaret Court) to win every possible title (singles, women's doubles, mixed doubles) from the four Grand Slam tournaments. At the same time, at 46 years and 3 months, she became the oldest player, male or female, to have won a Grand Slam title, eclipsing the record set by Norman Brookes, who was a month younger when he won the men's doubles at the Australian Championships in 1924.
Martina's return to tennis sees her still winning Grand Slam doubles titles after the retirement of Martina Hingis, who was named after her.
In July 2003, again with Leander Paes, she won the Wimbledon mixed doubles, equalling Billie Jean King's record of 20 Wimbledon titles, which is what she came out of retirement specifically to chase.
She made a singles comeback at the French Open 2004, after a gap of 10 years, in which she lost in the first round to Gisela Dulko of Argentina. Later at Wimbledon, Navratilova defeated Catalina Castano of Colombia in the first round, becoming the oldest player to win a singles match since the Open Era began in 1968.
Her 58 grand slam titles place her second on the all-time list behind Australia's Margaret Court, who has 62.