Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Birthday Girl: Martina Navratilova

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova turned 55 today, just four shy of the total number of Grand Slam titles she has amassed throughout her storied career. Her last Slam win, also her last match ever, came at the 2006 US Open when she won the Mixed Doubles title. She continues to play a very active role in tennis by playing exhibitions and commentating during Grand Slams.

Navratilova defected from her birth country of Czechoslovakia in 1974 and became a US citizen in 1981. It was then too when she came out publicly as a gay woman and to this day she remains just one of the handful of out professional tennis players. Speaking just last year at a fundraising event at Stonewall in London, here's what she had to say:

When I first came out in 1981, it was pretty lonely out there. Coming out was not considered a wise business decision. I think the phrase I heard was 'career suicide.' I’m told I lost millions in sponsorship, but in my heart I know I gained things of much greater value—the opportunity to live my life with integrity and the knowledge that others might have come out because of my example.

With all of that on her resume, one of my favorite things about her is when she played herself in an episode of Will & Grace as one of Karen Walker's paramours. Good times.

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