Martina Navratilova Interview

by Kaki Flynn

Martina's new book that outlines a six-step plan to
getting in shape.

The old newspaper stories that used to describe Martina as the “cold Eastern European” based on old stereotypes compared to her American competitors seem like silly fairy tales now. Martina is warm and friendly, laughing out loud in spots throughout the interview. 
K: You have written five books, which includes three murder mysteries, a tennis book, and an autobiography. Any more books coming? A lot has changed since you wrote your autobiography in 1984. Is there a “Martina, Part II” coming?
K: Having written so many books, is writing something important to you, that you do on a daily basis?
M:No, I try to keep track (of what I’m doing) sometimes, but I’m really spotty about that. You put so much energy into tennis, and then you go online, and you have 60 e-mails, so - Holy moly! It’s hard to have time.  So right now, I do tennis tournaments. 
K: You have mentioned politics a few times in the past couple of years in articles. Is that something you see yourself getting involved with? 
You know, I’m not much of a politician or a diplomat.  I just sort of come out and blurt out whatever comes to my head, and that doesn’t really work that well in politics, but who knows – it’s possible. 

The ball kids at the tournament all love Martina Navratilova’s dogs. She brought six this time, all packed in her car for the drive from her home in Sarasota, Fla., to the Bausch and Lomb Tennis Tournament in Amelia Island, Fla.  

Chloe, Sydney, Raven, Spike, Vincent and Bina all spent the week about 300 yards from their Mom, who was busy playing doubles in the Stadium Court, while they were hanging out in their own private space at the Barking Lot.  

The Nassau County Humane Society set up the lot for people to see dogs up for adoption. Martina’s six dogs, Serena Williams’ Jack Russell terrier, Lindsay Davenport’s newly adopted Rotweiller-mix and some of the other players’ dogs also hung out there as their parents battled on the courts, and then ran over between breaks to walk their dogs.

On the court, fans were cheering for Martina, yelling out her name between sets as she played to the crowds, laughing and joking. The 48--year-old mega-star made it to the semifinals in doubles at this tournament. 

The stands were filled with fans telling stories about Martina. One woman saw her play more than 20 years ago, when Martina used to wear rhinestones on her outfits, and the media joked about her weight. Other fans recalled times they simply passed her in the hallway, or touched her sleeve as she signed autographs. 
Fans lined the ropes as Martina left the court, holding giant, basketball-sized tennis balls used for getting autographs. 

She zipped by them, saying, “Meet me at the Humane Society Tent!” or “Meet me at the Tennis Players Against Breast Cancer Tent!” While the gay community claims her as one of its top activists, Martina gives back to many different organizations.   

With few exceptions at this tournament, she only signs autographs at the Tennis Against Breast Cancer booth, and the Humane Society tent, signing anything with the organization’s information on it bought for more than $15, raising thousands for the two organizations in a few days. 

One woman nearly keeled over in a Beatle-mania like display, leaping up and yelping that she got Martina’s autograph. The lines that stretched around the courts were made up of a mix of Martina fans. Izod-shirts and pearls mingled amicably with women with arms wrapped tightly around each other’s waists.   

We asked Martina what she was up to these days, including her new book on health and fitness launching next spring, LPGA player Rosie Jones, going whale-watching with Olivia Cruise Lines, and moving to Florida.  

Long gone are the rhinestones and headbands, even though a life-size black and white banner that pictures Martina in those days hangs in the entry way to the tournament. 

She now plays in casual outfits that include shorts and a baseball cap that she turns forwards and backwards throughout her matches. The celebrity sightings of her around town include her trips to the local health food store. Muscled, tan, and “very taken,” she still leaps around the court, Martina-style, many commenting that she looks better now than she ever has. 

We chatted in the Player’s Lounge at the Bausch and Lomb.

Kaki: You recently signed with Olivia Cruise Lines.  When can people sign up for a cruise with you? 
Martina: Right now, I don’t have time to go on a cruise-cruise, I’m just going to go in for one day. But there are many places that they do cruises to that I would like to visit. I might do one or two this year, but most will be next year.

K: If you could pick a place to go on a cruise, where would you go?
M: I would go to Antarctica, because I want to see the blue whales.     

M: I don’t need to go there. People don’t need to know that much about me. They know enough already. I am writing a book that will be out in the Spring of 2006 about being fit and happy. No more mysteries, except maybe solving how to be fit and happy. I also write a tennis column for USA Today.

M: It’s possible that someday that I may get involved way down the road, if I can make a difference in that way, then I will probably go that route. If it’s more being an activist, which is more up my alley – you know you can take a stand and say exactly what you want – without having to worry about hurting someone’s feelings or playing games.

K: You played for a recreational hockey league in Aspen, Colo. (She played for a team called the Mother Puckers). Do you get to play any hockey? Do you miss the mountains? 
M: I have been living in Sarasota for two years. I am looking forward to a stopping point so I can go back and do my winter sports. I miss that. I have a place in Aspen that I have been trying to sell. There is a rink about 20 minutes from where I live in Sarasota, where I’ve gone and skated around a little bit, but I don’t know if they have any hockey leagues.  


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