Martina Navratilova has inspired an entire generation of youngsters to pick up a racket. Her achievements are not just limited to the tennis court. Her legacy keeps growing with every single individual that takes inspiration from her. It’s safe to say that yesteryear legends may retire but their legacy lives on forever. The same is the case with the 18-time major champion.
Well, there’s no denying that Navratilova has inspired several youngsters in pursuing a career in tennis. However, one of those youngsters converted into a monumental talent that translated her racket skills into five grand slam titles. In case you are still wondering, the talent in question is none other than Maria Sharapova.
Maria Sharapova reveals how Martina Navratilova’s advice helped her leave Russia
Recently, Sharapova sat down with John McEnroe for an exclusive. They spoke at length about her career but a particular point of discussion stood out when McEnroe brought up Navratilova. The mention of Navratilova made the Russian delve deep into her childhood memories as it was the Czech-American icon who pushed her to pursue a career in tennis.
Sharapova said in an exclusive with John McEnroe, “I was five years old, there’s a clinic being held, over 200 children in Moscow. There’s Martina Navratilova with hundreds of children running around. She came up to my father after she saw me hit a few balls and said ‘Your kid is special.’ My dad took her advice and basically said ‘We’re getting out of Russia.’” When asked about her mother, Sharapova added, “My mom stayed behind for the first two years. Couldn’t get a visa.”
— Tennis Update INA (@TennisUpdateINA) January 31, 2015
Martina Navratilova spoke somewhat from her personal experience. The Czech-American legend herself had to leave her home country Czechoslovakia in pursuit of her tennis career.
When Martina Navratilova had to defect from her country
Back in 1975, Navratilova was forced to defect from her country in order to compete in slams outside Europe. She was just a teenager when she had to leave everything behind and move to the States. The next few years were harsh on her as she had to deal with constant media pressure. However, when the storm settled in, Navratilova cruised through and ended her career as the most decorated player in the history of the game.