The winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 major women’s doubles titles, and 9 Wimbledon single’s championships, Navratilova has been hailed as the greatest tennis player of her time. One of the first celebrities to come out at the height of her career, Navratilova was a trailblazer for gay and lesbian rights and acceptance in society. At age 18, Navratilova made the courageous and dramatic move of defecting from communist Czechoslovakia, sacrificing her family and home life so that she could pursue her dream of being one of the best tennis players in the world. Martina Navratilova dominated tennis in the 1980s and has been called the greatest all-round player in the sport’s history. Admired for her integrity and persona both on and off the court, the sports heroine is also a respected human rights activist and high profile ambassador for gay and lesbian rights. Born and raised in communist Czechoslovakia, Navratilova succeeded in receiving permission from the government to play in the 1975 U. S. Open at the last minute. After consulting with her father, she made the daring and painful choice at age 18 to not return home in order to pursue her dream of a professional tennis career. Though she was stripped of her Czechoslovakian citizenship for over 30 years, her difficult decision paid off: Navratilova went on to win 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 major women’s doubles titles, and 9 Wimbledon single’s championships. Navratilova hid her sexual orientation for several years, because at the time it would have disqualified her from gaining U. S. citizenship, which she eventually obtained in 1981. Shortly afterwards she became arguably the first superstar to come out publicly while still being a superstar. Her honesty cost her millions of dollars in sponsorships, but empowered the gay and lesbian community laying down the first foundational blocks for a culture that was more accepting and understanding of homosexuality and bisexuality. Navratilova has been selected by Tennis magazine as the “Greatest Female Tennis Player” to compete from 1965 to 2005. Time ranks her among their “30 Legends of Women’s Tennis” and she was one of the first inductees in the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. She has represented and raised funds for numerous charities in order to aid underprivileged children, animals’ rights, environmental protection efforts, and gay and lesbian rights. A champion on and off the court, Martina Navratilova is not only a tennis legend, but an inspirational leader who demonstrates wit, candor, and sheer motivation. Arguably the best tennis player ever to play the game, Navratilova has amassed an unmatched number of professional records during a career that spanned an amazing four decades, while proving herself to be one of the most intriguing, outspoken and respected figures of the 20th century – and now the 21st century. During her career, Navratilova won an astonishing 59 Grand Slam titles, including 18 singles, 31 women’s doubles and 10 mixed doubles. She is one of only three people who have won all three titles (singles, doubles and mixed doubles) at each of the four Grand Slam events. Beyond this, she won a total of 167 singles and 178 doubles titles, both all-time records for tennis players, male or female. Her 74-match singles winning streak and 109-match doubles winning streak are both professional records as are the 9 Wimbledon singles titles and 6 consecutive Grand Slam titles that she won during the 1980’s. After her 2000 induction into the tennis hall of fame, Navratilova continued to play and win on the WTA Tour through October 2006, when she retired after winning the US Open mixed doubles a month before her 50th birthday. Over the years, Navratilova has received numerous accolades, including Tour Player of the Year (7 times), Associated Press’ Female Athlete of the Year, and Female Athlete of the Decade by the National Sports Review. She was named Sportswoman of the Year (3 times) by Women’s Sports Foundation and was listed on Sports Illustrated’s Top 40 Athletes of All-time for her overall contributions to the world of athletics. Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Navratilova has always proven herself to be fearless about her views and beliefs, as demonstrated in 1975 when she defected to the US in order to flee the repressive regime then in power. She displayed unequalled courage, candor, and conviction in 1981 when she became one of the first international sports figures to openly state that she was gay. Through her honesty, integrity and courage, she has inspired countless others to do the same. Navratilova is a staunch supporter of women’s issues, gay rights, ethical treatment of animals, environmental protection and AIDS research. She is also a founder of the Rainbow Card credit card program and the non-profit Rainbow Endowment. Since its inception in 1995, the Rainbow Endowment has been one of the strongest supporters of gay and lesbian charities in North America, having given grants in excess of $2 million dollars. Through her television appearances, speaking engagements and tennis commentaries, Navratilova has become as popular for her humor as for her forthrightness and determination. In addition, she is an accomplished writer of both fiction and non-fiction. Her most recent book is Shape Your Self, a guide to personal fitness and healthy living.