Martina Navratilova: The Embodiment Of A True Champion

lee raydeanCorrespondent IMarch 12, 2009

I have loved tennis since I was 11.

Back then, great players like Billie Jean King, Rosie Casales, and Margaret Smith ruled women's tennis, just to name a few.

I always wanted to be like them. I'd go down to the courts and play up against the wall. It was exhilarating. My adrenaline pumped, and I could picture myself someday playing with the great ones. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

One day, I was looking through a tennis magazine and read about a female Czech player. She had muscles and a very determined look on her face. I watched her play and was taken aback. Her name? Martina Navratilova, the most dominant player of all time.

I couldn't believe it when I saw her. She was all over the court and hit every return with force, rushing the net, hitting shots that I wouldn't think anyone could return. She was fast, smooth, and unpredictable.

One never knew what to expect from Martina when playing her, except that she would always give her best. Her fans adore her and female players want to be like her. Naturally, the detractors call her "Navrat the Brat," but what can you do?

In 1982, Martina won 90 of her 93 matches, and went 86 of 87 the next year. She had 158 championships, more than any male or female player. Her career titles stand as 59 Grand Slams, 18 singles, 31 doubles, and 10 mixed doubles. She also won Wimbledon mixed doubles, tying Billie Jean King for most Wimbledon titles with 20.

At age 46, she was the oldest to win at Wimbledon, but by that point she had been No. 1 in the world for many years. She has won every Grand Slam event at least twice.

There is more to this athlete than I have written, but for determination, heart, and skill, Martina Navratilova embodies a true champion.