Martina Navratilova defected from Czechoslovakia to the United States in 1975 to escape Czech interference in her professional tennis career. Already successful at the time of her defection, Navratilova continued to win major tournaments, including consecutive Wimbledon championships in 1978 and 1979. She dominated the womenís professional tour during the mid-1980s, winning four United States Open titles, three Australian Opens, two French Opens, and six more Wimbledon titles. Navratilova held the number one ranking in the world between 1982 and 1986, earning a reputation for her strength, tenacity, and court savvy.
Martina Navratilova, born in 1956, Czech-American tennis player who has won 167 professional singles tournaments in her career, the sportís all-time record. She is also second to Australian Margaret Smith Court in major title victories with 58ó18 singles, 31 doubles, and 9 mixed doubles.
Navratilova was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now in the Czech Republic). She was the national champion in her native country from 1972 to 1975 and won the junior girls championship at Wimbledon in 1973. By the end of 1974 she had played in the singles finals of a number of professional tournaments and, with American tennis player Chris Evert as her partner, won several doubles championships.
Frustrated by the Czechoslovakian Tennis Federation's interference with her career, Navratilova defected to the United States in 1975. The same year she became a leading player on the women's professional tennis tour, as she and Evert won the French Open doubles championship, Navratilovaís first major title. The next year the pair won the Wimbledon doubles championship.
Navratilova won the Wimbledon singles championship in 1978 and again in 1979, when she finished the year as the world's top-ranked player. In 1981 she became a U.S. citizen. From 1982 to 1987 she held the number-one ranking for all but 22 weeks of a 282-week span.
Navratilova dominated Wimbledon from 1982 to 1987, winning six consecutive singles titles, and she won the title again in 1990 to set a record with nine Wimbledon singles championships during her career. In addition, she won nine other major singles titles: four times at the U.S. Open (1983, 1984, 1986, 1987), three times at the Australian Open (1981, 1983, 1985), and twice at the French Open (1982 and 1984).
During this period Navratilova and Evert, no longer doubles partners, developed an intense rivalry. They faced each other in 13 major singles finals, and Navratilova won 10 of these.
Navratilova also won fame for her doubles play, winning 31 major titles with a variety of partners. These included the U.S. Open (nine times), the Australian Open (eight times), and the French Open and Wimbledon (seven times each).
In 1992 Navratilova won her 158th professional tennis title at the Virginia Slims in Chicago, Illinois, breaking Evert's record for career singles championships. The next year she established yet another record, becoming the oldest player to beat a number-one-ranked player with a victory over Monica Seles in the Paris Open.
Navratilova retired from singles competition at the end of 1994, continuing to play doubles and mixed doubles. She returned to singles play in 2002 in a tournament in England, winning one match. The following year she won the mixed doubles championship at the Australian Open, becoming the oldest winner of a major title at age 46, and at Wimbledon to tie American Billie Jean King for the record number of Wimbledon championships with 20. Navratilova also won a match in the 2003 finals of the Fed Cup, running her career record in the international competition to 39-0.
In 2004 Navratilova won the mixed doubles title at the Australian Open, giving her wins in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles in all four major championships. She became the oldest woman in 82 years to win a singles match at Wimbledon, although she lost in the second round of the tournament. The same year Navratilova played in the Olympic Games for the first time, becoming the oldest tennis player in the competitionís history and reaching the doubles quarterfinals in Athens, Greece; captured her 174th doubles tournament title; and advanced to the doubles semifinals at the French Open and Wimbledon.
Navratilova served as president of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour Players Association three times (1979-80, 1983-84, and 1994-95). Her autobiography, Martina, was published in 1985, and she has also coauthored three mystery novels. Navratilova was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000.
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