Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, once the world's No. 1 singles' player, talks to Morgan Stanley about life after retiring.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, 60, never thought about her brand until she retired nearly 10 years ago. But the successful athlete is definitive.
“The brand for me is about doing the right thing and being true to myself and speaking out, no matter what the cost may be,” Navratilova said at the Connecticut Open during a lunch sponsored by Morgan Stanley. Diane Pacuk, a member of the firm’s Wealth Management, Diversity & Inclusion Council, hosted several clients and guests for this exclusive event in New Haven.
On August 21, 1980, Navratilova, the world’s No. 1 singles player at the time, played in two mixed doubles matches during a tournament celebrating 20 years of women’s tennis. Her speed and agility at her prime helped take women’s tennis to a new level.
Still active and fit, Navratilova continues to play in Grand Slam events, while working as a commentator for the BBC and Tennis Channel. She is also a parent of two children with her wife, Julie Lemigova.
During the 2016 elections, Navratilova said she spent a few days in Florida canvassing voters as part of her support for Hillary Clinton. She is an advocate for women and spoke out to support same-sex marriage equality in Australia.
“She continues to amaze me with her candor and activism,” says tournament director Anne Worcester, who has known Navratilova for 30 years, and introduced her at the event. “I am so delighted that Morgan Stanley is part of this and I hope that this event is the first of many to come.”
“We were delighted to work in partnership with the leadership team of the Connecticut Open to create a special experience for our clients and guests,” said Sandra L. Richards, Managing Director, Head of Segment Sales & Engagement Group at Morgan Stanley. “Martina Navratilova’s story and her personal journey is a powerful narrative of finding your voice and using it to help make change.”
In a question and answer conversation with Nadine Wong, a Global Sports and Entertainment Director at Morgan Stanley, Navratilova said the “secret sauce” to her longevity is her drive, ambition, and hard work.
“I knew what I wanted to do when I was eight years old,” Navratilova told the crowd of about 100. “I wanted to win Wimbledon.”.
Navratilova, a nine-time winner at Wimbledon and four-time winner at the U.S. Open, said she started hitting a ball against a wall in Czechoslovakia when she was five years old. When her parents told her to rest, she didn’t come inside. “I always went back to the wall,” she says. “I had talent, but I worked hard.”
In addition to tennis, Navratilova played soccer, hockey, and ran as a young athlete. Wanting to play on the professional circuit, she defected from the former communist Czechoslovakia when she was 18. Navratilova said she didn’t have a coach for six years, yet managed to win two grand slams at Wimbledon.
Navratilova “came out” in 1981, becoming one of the first openly gay athletes and celebrities.
Despite the intense pressure of the game, she says: “For me, it’s always about being the best tennis player.” She also attributes the long span of her career to being innovative. “I changed rackets in the middle of a winning streak,” she said.
An important key to success in tennis and life? “You have to forget about the last point,” she says. “That’s over.”
“You have to stay in the moment and look to the future,” Navratilova said. “As women, we overanalyze.”