Here's a heartwarming moment for the ages, brought to you by quite possibly the greatest women's tennis player of all time. At the U.S. Open Saturday, Martina Navratilova was doing an interview with Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon, according to the Washington Post, when she decided to ask a question of her own — Navratilova made an awesome U.S. Open public marriage proposal, and her longtime partner Julia Lemigova said yes. And to make the moment even sweeter, it all played out on the big screen to the entire U.S. Open crowd.
It's a huge moment for Navratilova, make no doubt — she's been an icon both as a tennis legend and a proud, self-avowed feminist for decades, and her status as an openly gay sports superstar has surely been an inspirational force in countless people's lives. The proposal was the culmination of a long-term romance between Navratilova and Lemigova — the pair have been together since 2006 — and she's walking into a joyful family situation, to boot. By marrying Lemigova, Navratilova will now have two new step-daughters, as well. Basically, in a life that was already full of achievement and excitement, Navratilova's finally going to marry the woman she loves.
It was sort of the ultimate sports stadium marriage proposal — sometimes you'll see a couple in the stands pop the question on the big screen, sure, but arguably the greatest player ever in her respective sport? It must've been quite a thrill.
For some perspective, Navratilova's legendary status within tennis is well and truly earned. Her career singles record stands at 1,442 wins against 219 losses, and she's won a staggering 18 singles Grand Slam titles across a career spanning four decades, a truly dominant record.
Born in Czechoslovakia in 1957 (now known as the Czech Republic), she left her home country behind to pursue her athletic dreams in the U.S., becoming a citizen in 1981. And she may have some international well-wishers — while there's always progress to be made, the Czech Republic is actually pretty liberal on LGBT issues, at least relative to other eastern European states. So basically, this is a union that'll likely be celebrated both in her new home and her old one.
Navratilova has never limited her influence and efforts to the world of tennis. She's also been an incredibly helpful voice on how to stay fit while advancing through middle-age, and she went public with her breast cancer diagnosis, becoming a high-profile advocate for victims and survivors of the disease. She's also got some pretty strong opinions on how to prevent homophobia from sports, as The Guardian reported in 2010.
Change has to come from the top. They don't allow antisemitic rants or whatever racist bullshit to be shouted from the stands, and they should not allow the homophobic stuff – but it seems like it is zero tolerance of all other bigoted crap, and 95% tolerance of anti-gay stuff.
Unfortunately, the "bigoted crap" isn't all out of state and local politics just yet — Navratilova and Lemigova would like to be married in their home state of Florida, but the law doesn't allow it. Here's to hoping something changes, and soon, so that their wedding can be everything they want it to be.
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