Martina Navratilova, a Czech and American tennis player, who still plays exhibition and invitational matches, is one of the greatest players of all time. In fact, she is a living legend. During her long career, she has won 18 Grand slams in singles and a whopping 31 Grand slams in doubles. In 2006, Navratilova was lauded as “the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who’s ever lived,” by Billie Jean King, the former No. 1. Not only that, in 2005, she was selected by the Tennis magazine as the greatest female tennis player for the years 1965 through 2005. Wow! What a career, and what a lady!
Anyway, after all these years, Martina has decided to settle down with her longtime partner, businesswoman Julia Lemigova. And guess where she decided to pop the question? You guessed right; at a tennis match! Martina’s proposal to Julia was shown on the giant screen after Kei Nishikori beat world number one Novak Djokovic at the US Open Semi-finals on Saturday, treating the fans to a surprise.
“I was very nervous. It came off, and she said yes. It was kind of an out-of-body experience. You’ve seen people propose at sporting events before, in movies, in real life, and here it was happening to me. It was like I was watching myself do it. It was cool,” the 57-year old tennis star said afterwards.
Trying hard to stem the tears that threatened to overwhelm her, Martina did it the old-fashioned way, going on one knee to pop the question. Julia said yes to a loud cheer from the crowd.
Navratilova’s request that her invitational doubles match be pushed back from its scheduled 4pm start time was turned down. “I couldn’t tell them why. They said, ‘No, that’s the schedule,’” Navratilova said. “Tracy (Austin) saw me right after, and I was flying high. I had to go into the locker room to settle down, because I had a match to play.”
Austin, her doubles rival, had no idea when she saw Navratilova walk into the locker room. Martina dropped the bomb that she was engaged conversationally, saying, “Yeah, I asked Julia to marry me.”
To which, Austin made her re-enact the whole thing!
Martina, alongside her doubles partner Jana Novotna, went on to beat Tracy Austin and Gigi Fernandez, adding the cherry on top of the awesome cake.
Julia who has two children, and Martina, have been together for six years, and would love to get married in Florida, where they live. But at the moment, that is not possible because Florida banned same-sex marriage and civil unions in November of 2008.