Sport

Martina NAVRATILOVA

Forced to come out
One of the best players in the history of women’s tennis and an icon of the LGBT+ movement
MARTINA NAVRATILOVA CZE-USA TENNIS 1956- 

Martina Navratilova’s exceptional career began in communist-era Czechoslovakia: 168 singles titles, 177 doubles titles, 59 Grand Slam titles, including 18 singles, world singles No 1 for 332 weeks between 1978 and 1987, and spanning over 30 years in total.

Off-court, her life has been one of many ups and downs. In 1975, she took the decision to flee her country of birth and went to live in the USA. Already a figurehead for woman’s tennis, in 1981 the New York Daily News outed her, explaining her fears about revealing her sexual orientation to the general public.

“I felt free. I didn't have to pretend, or not say, or speak about who I was.”

Although she confirmed that she was gay, Martina had no wish to flaunt that fact in the press, as she could well imagine the repercussions this would have on the sponsors of women’s tennis. Indeed, this forced coming-out did have its consequences: in her opinion, she lost the equivalent of $10 million in contracts with brand names and other sponsors. With Ronald Reagan president of the United States at the time, conservatism became the norm, and the AIDS pandemic was making headlines.

Despite these vagaries of life, Martina Navratilova remained popular with the public, ultimately becoming an icon for the LGBT+ movement.  

Her comments on being outed

With Billie Jean King, who was outed unbeknown to her shortly before Navratilova

An exceptional career

Athens 2004: the only time she competed in the Olympic Games

Assumed relationships

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Photo credits

Towards greater Equality

Home page
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Missouri Historical Society

1896 - 1936

Charlotte Cooper
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Halet Cambel
Unknown rights

Lina Radke
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Suzanne Lenglen
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Alice Millat
Bibliothèque Nationale de France / Agence Rol (public domain)
Glasshouse Images / Alamy Stock Photo
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Clara Zetkin
Wikimedia Creative Commons (public domain)

Emmeline Pankhurst
Central Press / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Shawshots / Alamy Stock Photo
Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Wikimedia Creative Commons / United States Library of Congress (public domain)

Annette Kellermann
General Photographic Agency / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Hulton Archive / Getty Images
Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
Wikimedia Creative Commons / United States Library of Congress (public domain)

Gertrude Ederlé
General Photographic Agency / Getty Images
Keystone / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
NY Daily News / Getty Images
Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

1936 - 1976

Billie Jean King
Central Press / Getty Images
Getty Images
Keystone / Getty Images
Wikimedia Creative Commons (public domain)

Eleanor Roosevelt
Everett Collection Historical / Alamy Stock Photo
Fox Photos / Getty Images
Keystone / Getty Images
World History Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

Enriqueta Basilio
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
The History Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

Fanny Blankers-Koen
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Giuliana Chenal Minuzzo
Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano (CONI)
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Wikimedia Creative Commons / Magazine Avanguardia (public domain)

Kathrine Switzer
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images
Getty Images
Sports Illustrated / Getty Images

Simone De Beauvoir
Gallimard
Keystone / Getty Images
Sygma / Getty Images

1976 - 2004

Anita De Frantz
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Annie Sugier
Annie Sugier
Centre Simone de Beauvoir (video)
Linda Weil-Curiel
Service photographique du Palais de l’Elysée
Soudeh Rad

Birgit Fischer
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Hassiba Boulmerka
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Lida Fariman
AFP / Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Nawal El Moutawakel
Bongarts / Getty Images
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

2004 – 2019

Charlotte Girard
Getty Images

Lindsey Van
Getty Images

Mary Kom
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Monique Lamoureux
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Robina Muqimyar
International Olympic Committee (IOC)

Inna Schevchenko
Alamy Stock Photo
Getty Images
Wikimedia Creative Commons / FEMEN Women's Movement
WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo

Malala Yousafzai
Alamy Stock Photo
Getty Images

Ada Hegerberg
AFP / Getty Images
Getty Images

Pauline Ado
Getty Images
ZUMA Press Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo


Towards greater Respect

1896 - 1936

George Poage
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
La Crosse Public Library
Murphy Library / University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Missouri Historical Society

Jesse Owens
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
The Ohio State University

Jack Johnson
Getty Images
Granger Historical Picture Archive / Alamy Stock Photo
The Protected Art Archive / Alamy Stock Photo
Ullstein Bild / Getty Images
Wikimedia Creative Commons / Bettmann Archive (domaine public)
Wikimedia Creative Commons / United States Library of Congress (domaine public)

Alfonso Brown
Agence Meurisse / Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Gamma-Keystone / Getty Images
Getty Images

Marcus Garvey
Gado Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Getty Images
Granger Historical Picture Archive / Alamy Stock Photo
History and Art Collection / Alamy Stock Photo
Wikimedia Creative Commons (public domain)
Wikimedia Creative Commons / Grantham Bain Collection (public domain)
World History Archive / Alamy Stock Photo

1936 - 1976

Mohammed Ali
Bettmann Archive / Getty Images
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Wikimedia Creative Commons / New-York World-Telegram and Sun Newspaper (public domain)

Abebe Bikila
International Olympic Committee (IOC) 
Getty Images

Tommie Smith
Archivio Angelo Cozzi / Mondadori Portfolio / Getty Images
Corbis / Getty Images
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC) 
Olympic Channel (video)
Paris Match / Getty Images

Sharon et Shirley Firth
Canadian Ski Museum
International Olympic Committee (IOC) 
Sharon et Shirley Firth / Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame
The Canadian Press

Jackie Robinson
Corbis / Getty Images
Getty Images
Wikimedia Creative Commons / Kansas City Call Newspaper, United States Library of Congress (public domain)
Wikimedia Creative Commons / United States Library of Congress (public domain)
Wikimedia Creative Commons / United States Mint (public domain)
Wikimedia Creative Commons / US National Archives and Records Administration (public domain)

Martin Luther King
Getty Images
Wikimedia Creative Commons / Birmingham AL Police Department (public domain)
Wikimedia Creative Commons / Plain Dealer Newspaper (public domain)
Wikimedia Creative Commons / US National Archives and Records Administration (public domain)
Wikimedia Creative Commons / White House Photo Office (public domain)

Harvey Milk
Alamy Stock Photo
Ted Sahl Collection / San José State University Special Collections and Archives
ZUMA Press Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo

1976 - 2004

Alwyn Morris
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
The Canadian Press

Cathy Freeman
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC) 

Martina Navratilova
Alamy Stock Photo
Getty Images
Hulton Archive / Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC)
Keystone Pictures USA / Alamy Stock Photo
NY Daily News Archive / Getty Images

Nelson Mandela
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC) 

2004 – 2019

Rohullah Nikpai
AFP / Getty Images
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC) 

Tom Daley
Getty Images
Instagram and Facebook / Tom Daley Official
International Olympic Committee (IOC) 

Feyisa Lilesa
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC) 

Eric Radford
A Plus Creative
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC) 
Olympic Channel (video)

Stefany Hernandez
Getty Images
International Olympic Committee (IOC) 
Peace and Sport (video)

Stefany Hernandez
Chris Mosier
Ashley Hamm
Getty Images
Javier Diaz Martos
Olympic Channel (video)
Zhen Heinemann

Colin Kaepernick
Getty Images

Barack Obama
Getty Images
White House Photo Office (public domain)

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