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Martina Navratilova

Prince of Asturias Award for Sports 1994

Martina Navratilova (Praga, Czechoslovakia 1956 - ) now a naturalised American, is without a doubt the greatest ladies tennis player of all times. During her professional career she has been the player to win most titles in the history of tennis, with 167 triumphs in the most important tournaments (no man or woman has beaten this record to date), winning at least two titles per year since 1975. That year, she reached the semi-finals at Forest Hills (USA), losing to Chris Evert, then the world´s number one. At the end of the match, she announced her decision to leave her country and settle in the United States -although she was not granted US nationality until 1981-, and she began to reach her first great triumphs, winning the Washington and Boston tournaments, and reaching the finals of Roland Garros (France), the Australian Open and the Rome tournament.

Her first brilliant year was in 1978, when she gained victories in Wimbledon, the Eastbourne and Phoenix opens, and the title of the circuit of Virginia Slims, after winning seven tournaments of a series, setting a record of 37 matches without a defeat. During her career, Marina Navratilova won the Australian Open in 1981, 1983 and 1985; Roland Garros in 1982 and 1984 (also reaching the finals in 75, 85, 86, and 87); and Wimbledon in 1978, 79, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87 and 90; and the US Open in 1983, 84, 86 and 87. Together with Pam Shriver, Navratilova holds the record for consecutive victories in doubles matches, with a total of 109. From 1975 on she was seeded among the top five players in the world, being rated number one in 78, 79, 82, 83, 84, 85 and 86. In 1987 she gave up this position to Steffi Graf. She has been named "Female Athlete of the Decade" by the National Sports Review magazine, and tennis player of the year on seven different occasions by the press agencies UPI and AP; the latter agency also honoured her as "Female Athlete of the Year" in 1983.

Apart from her intense sporting career, the life of Martina Navratilova has been, for many, an example of struggle and courage in the face of all kinds of adversities which she has had to confront: from the political situation in her homeland to her own private life, and her defense of that privacy. All this, together with her sporting triumphs, have made her into a genuine sporting myth.

The Jury, furthermore, has placed special emphasis upon humanitarian and childcare work done by the legendary player, in the form of her support for numerous foundations and organisations of this type, such as the "Make a Wish Foundation" and "Mothers against Drunk Driving", among others. She also plays an active part in integration programmes for children with different kinds of problems (Down´s Syndrome, AIDS, etc.).

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