Wednesday, July 05, 2006
"The Queen" is set to retire
33 years after first appearing on the womens tennis tour and 12 years after retiring from competitive singles play, Martina Navratilova will hang it up for good this year. She will turn 50 years young in October. And regrettably, this will be her final Wimbledon - where she has literally ruled the game's biggest prize like a queen. She's the owner of a combined 20 Wimbledon titles, a record she shares with longtime friend and confidant, Billie Jean King.
Even after retiring from singles play at age 38 in 1994, she has remained a competitive force in womens doubles and mixed doubles. Her serve may have slowed down, but her reflexes, variety of shot, completeness and knowledge of game, and competitive fires have continued to pay off fer her well past the age when mere mortals retire from tennis.
Like King before her, Martina has been a stalwart for womens rights. And she was an icon for the GLBT community well before it was chic to be such. Facing obstacles has become Martina's way to triumphing on and off the court. She defected from communist Czechoslovakia in 1976 and went about life on her own in a strange country - strange, but also one that felt like home.
Martina is as American as any of us now. And we should all be very proud of her. Telling a repressive government to shove it, defeating all time greats like Evert, Mandlikova, and Graf on the court, overcoming age, and sidestepping stereotypes, Martina's done it all.
Now, I wonder if she'll run for office in Colorado?