Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-10-07
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


CHICAGO HUMANITIES FESTIVAL Lesbian tennis icon Navratilova on life's hurdles, Olympics
by Gretchen Rachel Blickensderfer

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Martina Navratilova has spent a life fighting and winning battles. On the tennis court, a career that spanned more than three decades netted her 59 Grand Slam titles and nine women's singles title on the grass at Wimbledon. In her personal life, she faced leaving her family in Czechoslovakia at a young age, overcoming breast cancer and coming out as a lesbian.

On Nov. 9, Navratilova talked candidly about the changes and adaptations she had to make personally, physically and professionally in order to keep coming away with match point. Her interview, in front of a live audience, was a part of the Chicago Humanities Festival at the UIC Forum.

Navratilova left Communist-controlled Czechoslovakia in 1975 at 18. She wanted to play in the U.S. Open. "Just to get out of the country, you had to get permission from the interior ministry," she remembered. "They [The Czech Tennis Federation] said 'no' but I was independent, and a trouble maker and defiant." Navratilova left without permission. While she was excited about the freedom to play tennis whenever and wherever she wanted, she knew she could not go back and see her family without facing jail time. It was years before she saw them again.

In 1981, her career was flourishing and she had a lover, basketball star Nancy Lieberman. It was also the year that Navratilova came out as a lesbian. "Male reporters wouldn't ask a male player if he was gay," she recalled. "But it was certainly OK to ask women players. The press put more and more pressure [on me]."

Fear of being disqualified from U.S. citizenship, along with a scandal that outed Billie Jean King and cost all of her endorsements, had kept Navratilova in the closet. Two days after she received her U.S. passport, a New York Daily News Reporter asked her if she was a lesbian, but Navratilova still refused to talk to him, citing the WTA's ( Women's Tennis Association's ) advice that she could lose her sponsorships. "And the next day it's in the paper," she said. "'Martina can't come out because…..!'"

Navratilova acknowledged that, in 32 years, times have changed in the United States. "You were ostracized once for being out, now you're ostracized for being a homophobe," she said. "It's ironic. People are in the closet about being anti-gay."

However, regarding the effects of the Russian anti-gay legislation on athletes competing in the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, Navratilova believes the International Olympic Committee has taken a backward stance. "They're certainly not supporting their gay athletes and, to me, if you don't support a gay athlete, you're not supporting any athlete," she said. "I think there should be a lot of kissing going on. The athletes need to be safe about being able to speak."

Navratilova's partner is Russian and she wondered whether they would ever be able to visit with their two children. But, as with every challenge she has faced in life, Navratilova has stayed positive. "Tennis is the epitome of that," she said. "You lose a point and you've got to get over it. I always say attitude is a choice. You can either be miserable or you say, 'This is really tough, but this is what I'm going to do about it.'"

Read an interview with Martina Navratilova at

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Pride Action Tank launches to foster collaborative LGBTQ work 2015-10-07
NUNN ON ONE: SPORTS Hit or Bliss: Talking with football player Alli Alberts 2015-10-06
Federation of Gay Games announces 2015 Legacy Awards 2015-10-01
Lambda to 7th Circuit: Law prohibits discrimination against lesbian instructor 2015-09-30
A letter about dying, to my lesbian communities 2015-09-30
Faderman puts history in its place in 'The Gay Revolution' 2015-09-30
THE AMAZON TRAIL Lesbian vacations 2015-09-30
BOOK REVIEW The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle 2015-09-29
PASSAGES Honey Lee Cottrell 2015-09-26
Thousands at Chicago AIDS Run & Walk 2015-09-26
Center on Halsted, CrossTown Fitness offer free community total body classes 2015-09-24
Yogi Berra: Athlete Ally mourns baseball pioneer and ally 2015-09-23
Upcoming: AIDS Run & Walk; Branden James; a-ha; Halloween 2015-09-23
Chicago Sky's season over 2015-09-23
Jane Lynch dates rescheduled 2015-09-23
1985 MUSIC 2015-09-23
Bases loaded: 1985 sports memories, locally and nationally 2015-09-23
School reverses position on lesbian student's right to wear t-shirt 2015-09-22
Harris Theater: World premiere with Renee Fleming, Patricia Barber 2015-09-22
Infographic shows challenges of being bisexual in America 2015-09-20
PASSAGES Retired attorney MaryLu Hahn dies 2015-09-19
Bisexual adults may face heightened risk for cancer, STDs, depression 2015-09-17
Easy Abby web series raising funds for second season 2015-09-16
Elena Delle Donne of the Chicago Sky 2015 WNBA MVP presented by Samsung 2015-09-16
Revealing the real Sally Ride in new photobiography 2015-09-16
Upcoming: Museum Day; leather event; Armatrading; Cho 2015-09-16
Couple marry, then walk with LGBT running/walking group 2015-09-16
NCLR applauds USA Rugby commitment to end LGBT discrimination in the game 2015-09-15
BUSINESS Lesbian-run business benefits from 'Shark Tank' appearance 2015-09-15
2nd Annual Bisexual Awareness Week (#biweek) starts Sept. 20 2015-09-15
Chicago Sky to face Indiana Fever in Eastern Conference Semifinals 2015-09-13
Chicago Sky to host game one of Eastern Conference semifinals, Sept. 17 2015-09-10
Personal trainer Lacey Stone on her new fitness program 2015-09-09
Upcoming in sports: AIDS Run & Walk; Chicago Sky; Race Judicata 2015-09-09
ESPN blogger comes out, is engaged 2015-09-04
Judge dismisses Ohio woman's fertility clinic lawsuit 2015-09-04
Remembering Dick Uyvari 2015-09-03
AIDS Run & Walk Chicago continues to expand 2015-09-02
BOOKS Uncovering the past: Emily Bingham is 'Irrepressible' 2015-09-02
MLB inclusion ambassador talks about newly out player 2015-09-02

Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.