October 18, 1956 Prague, Czechoslovakia
"I learned my lesson from my mother at an early age: sports
are good for young women. It's good to compete, good to run, good
to sweat, good to get dirty, good to feel tired and healthy and
refreshed. We had no idea of tomboys-there's no word for it in
the Czech language. Women played sports and had families and jobs.
That simple. My mother was my role model." --from Martina
"I'm sure playing tennis made me more independent, more self-confident,
because I could do some things better than other people-but affect
my sexuality? I don't see it." --from Martina 1985
"I was used in a TIME magazine cover story about the new
concept of feminity-the idea being that today's women are in shape,
not just shapely, that having muscles is all right. There I was,
forearms and all, right next to Olivia Newton John." --from
"My image definitely hurts me at times. It was no accident
that I was never on the cover of Sports Illustrated until I won
the 1983 US Open. I had already won everything else in tennis,
but the corporate big shots would rather have a model in a bathing
suit on the cover than the best woman tennis player in the world
because they sell their magazine to men, and they think they know
Or take Sports Illustrated's Sportwoman or Sportsman of the Year
honor. In 1983 I won three of four events in the Grand Slam, losing
only one match all year, but they gave the top award to Mary Decker,
the track star. Nothing against Mary Decker, a fantastic athlete
who had a great season, but I thought they could have given it
to me just as well.
I'm not necessarily arguing with their choice, but I am arguing
with their style. In the feature article on Mary, they made a
big point about how badly she needs to be protected and loved
and supported, how she had gone through the breakup of her marriage
and met this gentle man, Richard Slaney, whom she later married.
It was all very tender and nice and it featured a picture of this
big guy with his arms wrapped around little Mary.
But when Nancy Lieberman helped me during a low time in my life,
there were a lot of snide remarks about the so-called Team Navratilova.
It's fine for a great runner and a great competitor like Mary
Decker to find a new source of support, but a great tennis player
like Martina Navratilova is treated like a curiosity item because
she has a support system." --from Martina 1985
"It made me realize that women and men are treated differently
even in something as private as sexuality. Sportswriters have
no problem asking a woman, 'Is it true you're sleeping with other
women?' but they'd never ask a man whether he was sleeping with
other men-and God knows there are some well-known male athletes
who are doing just that.
"You know that if a reporter asked that question of a man,
he'd get a knuckle sandwich and he wouldn't wake up for a week.
But if a woman smacked a reporter who asked insinuating questions
about her sexuality, that would only prove the point, wouldn't
it?" --from Martina 1985
I always liked the team sports, passing the puck to somebody in
a hockey game on a pond, kicking the ball to somebody in a soccer
game in a playground. I liked the comaraderie of the clubhouse,
the encouragement from the bench, talking over a game on the way
home." --from Martina 1985
For all that, I got ahead of her right away and stayed there.
I was realy trying hard, and I remember thinking to myself how
hard I could actually play when I had to. I'd never had to play
this hard before, but I found myself getting to balls I never
imagined I could reach, hitting the returns harder, spotting my
serves. I was really hustling and playing up to my potential,
and I never even noticed that I was sick or had a scraped knee.
I thought to myself: You have a chnace to make something iof this,
and I beat her, 7-5, 6-4. --describing the 1972 Czech National
Tennis Championships against Vlasta Vopickova
©Copyright 1996 by Jan Meyer.