Martina Navratilova

(b. 1956) Czech-born American tennis player

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(1956– )

US tennis player, born in Czechoslovakia, and the most successful woman player since Billy Jean King.

Navratilova defected to the USA in 1975 and became a US citizen in 1981. During this time she developed her powerful game to a pitch rarely seen in women's tennis: in 1982 and 1983, for example, she lost only 4 out of 180 matches and won 31 of the 35 tournaments she entered. In 1983 she won both the Wimbledon and US Open singles titles without conceding a set and her earnings for that year – over $1,400,000 – broke all records for a sportswoman. Going on to take the Australian championship and the 1984 French singles title, Navratilova thereby achieved the coveted grand slam of all four major titles in succession.

Her major successes include nine Wimbledon titles (1978–79, 1982–87, and 1990), and victories in the US Open, the French championship, and the Australian championship. She has been equally successful in doubles, with a record eight successive grand slam titles in partnership with the US player Pam Shriver. She won the doubles title at Wimbledon in 1976, 1979, and 1981–86. Her records include a total of 1400 matches won, including an unbroken run of 74 consecutive wins. She announced her retirement after being defeated in the 1994 Wimbledon final: by this time her earnings from the sport are thought to have totalled more than $15 million. Her publications include the autobiography Being Myself (1985), in which she discussed her publicly avowed lesbianism.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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