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Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova (born October 18, 1956, in Prague, Czechoslovakia) is a former World No. 1 woman tennis player. She is generally considered to be one of the greatest female tennis players of all time and is a lesbian. As a serve and volley player, her best surface was grass, although she was able to capture at least two Grand Slam singles title on each surface.
Originally from Czechoslovakia, she defected to the United States in 1975 and became a U.S. citizen in 1981. During her career, she won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 41 Grand Slam doubles titles (31 women's doubles and 10 mixed doubles). She won the women's singles title at Wimbledon a record 9 times.
In 1972 at the age of 15, Navratilova won the Czechoslovakian national tennis championship. In 1973, aged 16, she turned professional. She won her first professional singles title in Orlando, Florida in 1974. A left-handed serve-and-volleyer with superb volleying skills, Navratilova raised the women’s game to new levels with her power and aggression. She struggled with her weight in the early years of her career and was at one point unflatteringly labelled the “Great Wide Hope” by journalist Bud Collins. Her determination, however, to reach the top of the game saw her embark on a punishing routine to get herself into shape, assisted by basketball's Nancy Lieberman-Cline. Eventually, extreme levels of fitness and conditioning were hallmarks of her game. She also was quick to adopt graphite racquet technology. Navratilova was a finalist at two Grand Slam singles tournaments in 1975 - losing in the final of the Australian Open to Evonne Goolagong Cawley and the French Open to Chris Evert. After losing to Evert in the semifinals of that year's U.S. Open, the 18-year-old Navratilova went to the offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in New York City and informed them that she wished to defect from Communist Czechoslovakia. Within a month, she received a Green Card.
Navratilova won her first Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon in 1978, where she defeated Evert in three sets in the final and captured the World No. 1 ranking for the first time. She beat Evert in the final again to successfully defend her Wimbledon title in 1979. In 1981, Navratilova won her third Grand Slam singles title by defeating Evert in the final of the Australian Open. Navratilova also reached the final of the U.S. Open, where she lost a third set tiebreak to Tracy Austin. Navratilova won both Wimbledon and the French Open in 1982. Following adoption of Lieberman's exercise plan and using graphite racquets, Navratilova became the most dominant player in women's tennis. After losing in the fourth round of the first Grand Slam event of 1983 - the French Open - she captured the year's three remaining Grand Slam titles (the Australian Open was held in December at that time). Navratilova’s loss at the French Open was her only singles defeat during that year, during which she established an 86-1 record. Her winning percentage was the best ever for a professional tennis player. During 1982, 1983, and 1984, Navratilova lost a total of only six singles matches.
Navratilova won the 1984 French Open, enabling her to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously. This was extended to a record-equalling six consecutive Grand Slams following wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. She entered the 1984 Australian Open with a chance of winning all four titles in the same year. In the semifinals, however, Helena Suková ended Navratilova's 74-match winning streak (a record for a professional) 1-6, 6-3, 7-5. The left-handed Navratilova succeeded in winning all four Grand Slam women’s doubles titles in 1984, partnering right-handed Pam Shriver, a tall and talented player whose most noted stroke was a slice forehand, a virtually unheard of shot in the game today. This was part of a record 109-match winning streak that the pair achieved between 1983 and 1985. (Navratilova was ranked the World No. 1 doubles player for a period of over three years in the 1980s.) In the three years from 1985 to 1987, Navratilova reached the women’s singles final at all 11 Grand Slam tournaments she played, winning six of them (and extending her run of triumphs at Wimbledon to a record six consecutive).
A new threat to Navratilova's dominance, in the form of the young German player Steffi Graf, emerged on the scene in 1987 when she beat Navratilova in the final of the French Open, whipping forehands and sliced backhand passing shots out of Navratilova’s reach. Navratilova beat Graf in the 1987 Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals (and at the U.S. Open became only the third player in the Open Era to win the women’s singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles at the same event). But Graf's consistent play throughout 1987 allowed her to obtain the World No. 1 before the end of the year. (Graf eventually broke Navratilova's records of 156 consecutive weeks and 331 total weeks as the World No. 1 singles player but never came close to breaking Navratilova's record 167 singles titles as Graf topped out at 107.) In 1988, Graf won all four Grand Slam singles titles, beating Navratilova 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 in the Wimbledon final along the way. In 1989, Graf and Navratilova met in the finals of both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, with Graf winning both encounters in three sets. Navratilova's final Grand Slam singles triumph was in 1990. Graf lost in the Wimbledon semifinals that year to Zina Garrison. In the final, the 33-year old Navratilova swept Garrison 6-4, 6-1 to claim a record-breaking ninth Wimbledon singles crown. Though that was her last Grand Slam singles title, Navratilova made two further major finals in the years that followed. In 1991, she lost in the U.S. Open final to the new World No. 1 Monica Seles, after defeating Graf in a semifinal. And then in 1994, at the age of 37, Navratilova reached the Wimbledon final, where she lost in three sets to Conchita Martinez. Soon after, she retired from the singles tour. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000.
Since 2000, Navratilova has returned to the tour to play doubles events, while rarely also playing singles. In her first singles performance in eight years, at Eastborne in 2002, she beat world number 22 Tatiana Panova and lost in the next round to Daniela Hantuchova in three sets. In 2003, she won the mixed doubles titles at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, partnering Leander Paes. This made her the oldest ever Grand Slam champion (aged 46 years, 8 months). The Australian Open victory made her only the third player in history to complete a “boxed set” of Grand Slam titles by winning the women’s singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles at all four slams. The Wimbledon win allowed her to equal Billie Jean King’s record of 20 Wimbledon titles (in singles women's doubles, and mixed doubles combined) and extended her overall number of Grand Slam titles to 58 (second only to Margaret Court, who won 62). Despite being criticized for receiving a wildcard, Navratilova decisively won a singles match in straight sets at the first round of Wimbledon in 2004, aged 47 years and 8 months, to make her the oldest player to win a professional singles match in the open era. She also won the first set of her second round match, but lost the match (to Gisela Dulko), and later noted that the angle of the sun, as the evening match progressed, made it very difficult to serve and volley. Over the course of her career, Navratilova won 167 top-level singles titles (more than any other player in the Open Era) and 177 doubles titles. Her most recent title in women's doubles (a Tier I event) came on ?August 21, 2006, at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada, where she won the women's doubles event partnering Nadia Petrova. Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles titles during her career: 9 at Wimbledon, 4 at the U.S. Open, 3 at the Australian Open, and 2 at the French Open. Her overall record in 67 Grand Slam events was 306-49 .862 (120-14 at Wimbledon, 89-17 at the U.S. Open, 51-11 at the French Open, and 46-7 at the Australian Open).
On July 5, 2006, Navratilova announced that Wimbledon 2006 would be her last and by the end of the 2006 season, she would retire from doubles play. On July 6, 2006, Navratilova played her last ever match at Wimbledon, losing in the mixed doubles to the titleists, Israel's Andy Ram and Russia's Vera Zvonareva, in the third round. Earlier on the same day, Navratilova lost her women's doubles quarterfinal match against Chinese fourth seeds Zi Yan and Jie Zheng, also the titleists. Navratilova capped off her career by winning the mixed doubles title at the 2006 U.S. Open with Bob Bryan, her 41st Grand Slam doubles title (31 in women's doubles and 10 in mixed doubles) and 177th overall. The only Grand Slam mixed doubles title that eluded her since her return was the French Open.

Grand Slam singles finals

Year Championship Position Opponent Score
1978 Wimbledon Champion Chris Evert 2-6, 6-4, 7-5
1979 Wimbledon Champion Chris Evert 6-4, 6-4
1981 Australian Open Champion Chris Evert 6-7, 6-4, 7-5
1982 French Open Champion Andrea Jaeger 7-6, 6-1
1982 Wimbledon Champion Chris Evert 6-1, 3-6, 6-2
1983 Wimbledon Champion Andrea Jaeger 6-0, 6-3
1983 U.S. Open Champion Chris Evert 6-1, 6-3
1983 Australian Open Champion Kathy Jordan 6-2, 7-6
1984 French Open Champion Chris Evert 6-3, 6-1
1984 Wimbledon Champion Chris Evert 7-6, 6-2
1984 U.S. Open Champion Chris Evert 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
1985 Wimbledon Champion Chris Evert 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
1985 Australian Open Champion Chris Evert 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
1986 Wimbledon Champion Hana Mandliková 7-6, 6-3
1986 U.S. Open Champion Helena Suková 6-3, 6-2
1987 Wimbledon Champion Steffi Graf 7-5, 6-3
1987 U.S. Open Champion Steffi Graf 7-6, 6-1
1990 Wimbledon Champion Zina Garrison-Jackson 6-4, 6-1
1975 Australian Open Runner-Up Evonne Goolagong Cawley 6-3, 6-2
1975 French Open Runner-Up Chris Evert 2-6, 6-2, 6-1
1981 U.S. Open Runner-Up Tracy Austin 1-6, 7-6, 7-6
1982 Australian Open Runner-Up Chris Evert 6-3, 2-6, 6-3
1985 French Open Runner-Up Chris Evert 6-3, 6-7, 7-5
1985 U.S. Open Runner-Up Hana Mandliková 7-6, 1-6, 7-6
1986 French Open Runner-Up Chris Evert 2-6, 6-3, 6-3
1987 Australian Open Runner-Up Hana Mandliková 7-5, 7-6
1987 French Open Runner-Up Steffi Graf 6-4, 4-6, 8-6
1988 Wimbledon Runner-Up Steffi Graf 5-7, 6-2, 6-1
1989 Wimbledon Runner-Up Steffi Graf 6-2, 6-7, 6-1
1989 U.S. Open Runner-Up Steffi Graf 3-6, 7-5, 6-1
1991 U.S. Open Runner-Up Monica Seles 7-6, 6-1
1994 Wimbledon Runner-Up Conchita Martinez 6-4, 3-6, 6-3

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