Martina Navratilova was born Martina Šubertová in 1956. Her parents divorced when she was three, and in 1962 her mother Jana married Miroslav Navrátil, who became her first tennis coach. Martina then took the name of her stepfather (adding the feminine suffix "ová"), thus becoming Martina Navrátilová .
In 1973, aged 16, she made her debut on the USLTA professional tour but did not turn professional until 1975. She won her first professional singles title in Orlando, Florida in 1974 at the age of 17. A left-handed serve-and-volleyer with superb volleying skills, Navratilova raised the women’s game to new levels with her power and aggression. Navratilova was a finalist at two Grand Slam singles tournaments in 1975. After losing to Evert in the semifinals of that year's U.S. Open, the 18-year-old Navratilova went to the offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service in New York City and informed them that she wished to defect from Communist Czechoslovakia. Within a month, she received a green card.
Navratilova won her first Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon in 1978, where she defeated Evert in three sets in the final and captured the World No. 1 ranking for the first time. She beat Evert in the final again to successfully defend her Wimbledon title in 1979. In 1981, Navratilova won her third Grand Slam singles title by defeating Evert in the final of the Australian Open. Navratilova won both Wimbledon and the French Open in 1982
.After losing in the fourth round of the first Grand Slam event of 1983 - the French Open - she captured the year's three remaining Grand Slam titles. Navratilova’s loss at the French Open was her only singles defeat during that year, during which she established an 86-1 record. Her winning percentage was the best ever for a professional tennis player. During 1982, 1983, and 1984, Navratilova lost a total of only six singles matches. Navratilova won the 1984 French Open, enabling her to hold all four Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously.
The left-handed Navratilova succeeded in winning all four Grand Slam women’s doubles titles in 1984, partnering right-handed Pam Shriver. This was part of a record 109-match winning streak that the pair achieved between 1983 and 1985. (Navratilova was ranked the World No. 1 doubles player for a period of over three years in the 1980s.)
In the three years from 1985 to 1987, Navratilova reached the women’s singles final at all 11 Grand Slam tournaments held during those years, winning six of them (and extending her run of triumphs at Wimbledon to a record six consecutive). Navratilova's final Grand Slam singles triumph was in 1990 claiming a record-breaking ninth Wimbledon singles crown.
Navratilova was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2000, Navratilova returned to the tour to play doubles events, while rarely also playing singles. In 2003, she won the mixed doubles titles at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, partnering Leander Paes. This made her the oldest ever Grand Slam champion (aged 46 years, 8 months). The Australian Open victory made her only the third player in history to complete a “boxed set” of Grand Slam titles by winning the women’s singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles at all four slams. The Wimbledon win allowed her to equal Billie Jean King’s record of 20 Wimbledon titles (in singles women's doubles, and mixed doubles combined) and extended her overall number of Grand Slam titles to 58 (second only to Margaret Court, who won 62).
Over the course of her career, Navratilova won 167 top-level singles titles (more than any other player in the Open Era) and 177 doubles titles. Her most recent title in women's doubles (a Tier I event) came on August 21, 2006, at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada, where she won the women's doubles event partnering Nadia Petrova. Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles titles during her career: 9 at Wimbledon, 4 at the U.S. Open, 3 at the Australian Open, and 2 at the French Open. Her overall record in 67 Grand Slam events was 306-49 .862 (120-14 at Wimbledon, 89-17 at the U.S. Open, 51-11 at the French Open, and 46-7 at the Australian Open).