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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My hope is to have a book discussion every month or so.

May's book will be
Martina by Martina Navratilova and George Vecsey (Mass Market Paperback, also in hardback - May 12, 1986.

If you don't have this book and would like to participate it can often be found in libraries. Ebay and alibris.com are other good sources.

I hope we get a good thread going. On May 1st I'll release this thread and away we go!
 

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Cant wait Rollo!
 

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I think it was a great book and she really laid open her soul.
I think it gave a great insight into her early life in Czechoslovakia which is invaluable in understanding Navratilova.
 

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The interesting thing about Mart's autobiography is that for me, it was a true representation of her character. She laid her soul open and bared it for us all to see. I also think Chrissies autobiography was a representation of her character - hers was safe, didnt disclose anything that wasnt already well known and was generally quite guarded... But I digress.

I really enjoyed and appreciated Martina talking us through the actual scene where she saw her parents for the first time in 4 or 5 years after the defection and her homosexuality had just became public knowledge and her father really took the news badly. Her fathers reaction really took me back to the worst reaction I got when I came out which off my sister. It seemed to me that her fathers reaction was more motivated by concern about what OTHER PEOPLE would think and say about Martina that it bothered him so much.

Then of course there was the bombshell that Martina's biological father suffered depression and committed suicide and her mother was worried that Martina may end up going down a similar path.

For a young gay kid, to be able to see Martina's own personal coming out story and compare it to your own was a wonderful gift that Martina gave her fans imo.
 

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The interesting thing about Mart's autobiography is that for me, it was a true representation of her character. She laid her soul open and bared it for us all to see. I also think Chrissies autobiography was a representation of her character - hers was safe, didnt disclose anything that wasnt already well known and was generally quite guarded... But I digress.

I really enjoyed and appreciated Martina talking us through the actual scene where she saw her parents for the first time in 4 or 5 years after the defection and her homosexuality had just became public knowledge and her father really took the news badly. Her fathers reaction really took me back to the worst reaction I got when I came out which off my sister. It seemed to me that her fathers reaction was more motivated by concern about what OTHER PEOPLE would think and say about Martina that it bothered him so much.

Then of course there was the bombshell that Martina's biological father suffered depression and committed suicide and her mother was worried that Martina may end up going down a similar path.

For a young gay kid, to be able to see Martina's own personal coming out story and compare it to your own was a wonderful gift that Martina gave her fans imo.
I totally agree with you friend. She definitely laid bare her soul and that was a brave thing to do. I feel her autobiography was one of the most honest I have read. You are right, Chris Evert's was very safe.
I came from a very working class Glaswegian background and was a successful rugby player when young. It was tough in those circumstances to be gay, particularly when no one suspected!!!
And to have Martina as a role model and highlighting the issues was great. Just wish I had supported her more when she was at her peak!!
I tended to support the under dogs!!!
 

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I totally agree with you friend. She definitely laid bare her soul and that was a brave thing to do. I feel her autobiography was one of the most honest I have read. You are right, Chris Evert's was very safe.
I came from a very working class Glaswegian background and was a successful rugby player when young. It was tough in those circumstances to be gay, particularly when no one suspected!!!
And to have Martina as a role model and highlighting the issues was great. Just wish I had supported her more when she was at her peak!!
I tended to support the under dogs!!
Hey iainmac.. wow your story is rather similar to my own.. I came from a working class family in country NSW Australia and was a standout rugby league player as a teenager which was great to avoid anyone suspecting me of being gay...

I came across martina at the perfect time 1987 - just as her domination was ending. I also tend to support the underdogs but for me, Martina was the underdog just around the time I started following her (by 88 she was anyway)..

Guys I will tell you a funny story about the only time Ive ever come face to face with Martina.. and it involves her autobiography.. its quite a funny story.. Will revisit this later as Im at work right now!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Guys I will tell you a funny story about the only time Ive ever come face to face with Martina.. and it involves her autobiography.. its quite a funny story.. Will revisit this later as Im at work right now!!!
Can't wait her to hear it Philbo!

Regarding Martina's sexuality: when the book first came out I thought: Martina, you are being so open and honest about a lot in your life. A lot more open than Billie Jean. But I'm not buying the "I'm bisexual and may still meet a man and have a child" thing. Be honest. You're lesbian, that's fine, just say it.

Now with a bit of age I tend to appreciate more how culture and the times we live in constains us. Billie Jean was a product of religious Catholic household and really struggled with her nature. Martina did too, though I'd imagine Billie Jean's example made it easier, and in Martina's case religion was not an issue.

And now we have Amelie. Without the change in times and Martina's example
would she have been possible?
 

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Hey iainmac.. wow your story is rather similar to my own.. I came from a working class family in country NSW Australia and was a standout rugby league player as a teenager which was great to avoid anyone suspecting me of being gay...

I came across martina at the perfect time 1987 - just as her domination was ending. I also tend to support the underdogs but for me, Martina was the underdog just around the time I started following her (by 88 she was anyway)..

Guys I will tell you a funny story about the only time Ive ever come face to face with Martina.. and it involves her autobiography.. its quite a funny story.. Will revisit this later as Im at work right now!!!
I am maybe a bit older than you as I really got into tennis when 9 in 1979. I liked her at first but then she won all the time and you couldn't help but support the underdog.
Yes I suppose by 88 she could be classed as an underdog- mind you only against Graf, against everyone else she was dominant.
Funny that our stories a bit similar- mind you our rugby is better:);)LOL
 

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Can't wait her to hear it Philbo!

Regarding Martina's sexuality: when the book first came out I thought: Martina, you are being so open and honest about a lot in your life. A lot more open than Billie Jean. But I'm not buying the "I'm bisexual and may still meet a man and have a child" thing. Be honest. You're lesbian, that's fine, just say it.

Now with a bit of age I tend to appreciate more how culture and the times we live in constains us. Billie Jean was a product of religious Catholic household and really struggled with her nature. Martina did too, though I'd imagine Billie Jean's example made it easier, and in Martina's case religion was not an issue.

And now we have Amelie. Without the change in times and Martina's example
would she have been possible?
i agree with all of that Rollo. She was more forthcoming than BJK but you have hit the nail on the head about the different times and the dreadful reaction to BJK in 1981 shows this. The latter must have been so tough on BJK emotionally and financially. But you know it didn't get the public reaction that the press probably hoped for. People in general had the opinion of so what and let her live her own life. She got a terrific reception in the United Kingdom always after that.
And yes King and Navratilova were so significant and all lesbian players should be grateful. It is just a pity that the culture on the ATP tour does not encourage the same openness.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
And yes King and Navratilova were so significant and all lesbian players should be grateful. It is just a pity that the culture on the ATP tour does not encourage the same openness.

The ATP is very closed on the whole topic. As far as the public was concenred there was no shock regarding Martina. After all, her book opens with a quote about being mistaken for a boy when younger.

In rereading the book now some things really jump out at me:

1. The whole saga of Martina's mother not telling her things. Hiding the fact that Martina's dad was dead, then hiding that he killed himself. You can see where Martina gets her tendency not to confront people about personal issues. To a much lesser degree I can relate to this. My father never told me until I was 18 that he saw his younger brother get run over and killed AND that he had another 1/2 brother. When my grandfather was dying of cancer my Dad did'nt want to "upset" me because I was in Japan.

2. Martina's (great?) grandmother was #4 in Czechoslovakia or something like that. I need to find the page. And Martina's grandfather tried to make Martina's mother (Jana) into a tennis champion, beating her at times when she wasn't living up to his standards. All of this makes me wonder if the lessons learned the hard way by her mother had a positive effect on a young Martina. The balance between pushing hard enough and too hard is delicate.

Despite some of the wierd family stuff Martina appears to have had great parents, and of course a gem of a gransmum in Grandma Subertova!

P. S. [email protected] Martina almost getting into a fistfight with her grandpa when she was 10!
 

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Can't wait her to hear it Philbo!

Regarding Martina's sexuality: when the book first came out I thought: Martina, you are being so open and honest about a lot in your life. A lot more open than Billie Jean. But I'm not buying the "I'm bisexual and may still meet a man and have a child" thing. Be honest. You're lesbian, that's fine, just say it.

Now with a bit of age I tend to appreciate more how culture and the times we live in constains us. Billie Jean was a product of religious Catholic household and really struggled with her nature. Martina did too, though I'd imagine Billie Jean's example made it easier, and in Martina's case religion was not an issue.

And now we have Amelie. Without the change in times and Martina's example
would she have been possible?
Ok so my funny Martina story goes like this (it’s a much better story when told in person and I am able to do the actions and facial expressions etc)

So it was early on in Martina's doubles comeback.. Must have been 2002 or 2003 I cant remember exactly.. But it was the first trip Martina had made for about 10 years to Australia so I was determined to try and cross paths with my idol.. As it turned out there was an announcement that in a posh hotel in Sydney, there would bea charity dinner/evening where Martina would be honoured and all proceeds would go to the childrens hospital in Sydney.. I forked out about $200 which for me at the time, was a LOT of money..

So I went with a friend of mine and it was a great night. I saw many past stars.. John Newcombe chain smoking was a bit of a surprise to me..

I remember Martina arriving with a big police escort and when she got out of her car she went up to the police and had a laugh with them and sat on one of their bikes. I will never forget the overwhelming flood of emotion that hit me when I first laid my own eyes on Martina. I cant describe it but it was just such an amazing thrill to be looking at her directly when up til that point I had only ever seen her through a tv screen. For the first time in my life I could understand why people faint at a Michael jackson concert or start crying like a babbling idiot..I could barely string a sentence together due to the level of emotion in my chest… Such pure joy!!

(wow this post is gonna be terribly long… bear with me)

So eventually we got seated and I was amazingly lucky to be sat at a table about 10 metres or so from martina and I had direct line of sight to her. Needless to say I watched her eat in fascination and I was surprised when she had 1 bite of the cheesecake dessert. Now at this stage of the night I was really confident that I would get to have 30 seconds face to face with her at some point where I could just basically tell her that I love her…

But then they showed a 20 minute presentation of great moments in martina's life.. Then she got up and spoke for about 10 minutes.. And then they had a charity auction.. Through all this I started to panic a little because it was getting rather late in the evening..It must have been about 11.30pm and I was really worried Martina would leave any minute.. The other reason I was panicking was the fact that Martina had an assistant or someone basically standing behind her fending everyone off who came up to get an autograph or to try and say Hello.. In fairness this was mainly through dinner while Martina was eating….

Anyway I gave the assistant a nickname 'Bitch in the Yellow Dress' or BITYD. Now throughout the course of the evening Id let it be known to the entire table I was sitting with how strong my obsession was with Marts and that I NEEDED to have a moment alone with her… Well by the end of the evening, with the tears welling in my eyes, the rest of my table took a liking to me and they all started to help me get my moment with Martina… I'll never forget the gratitude I felt when this sweet old lady who was suffering from cancer tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to Martina and said 'look Phil, the lady in the yellow dress is not there anymore'… I looked up and she was right the BITYD was nowhere in sight and Martina was just sitting there watching the auction taking place….

This was THE moment Id waited for about 15 years for.

So I'd taken along two books with me to hopefully get a signature. Paperback copy of 'Martina' by George Vecsey/Martina and 'The Lives and Times of Martina Navratilova' by Adrianne Blue (cant recall the authors name exactly)… Well as I went to approach Martina a memory surfaced from somewhere that Martina was not too happy with the 'unauthorised' biography so I decided against asking her to sign that one through fear of offending her slightly…

So I picked up my little paperback copy of Martina, which Id ordered through Amazon and waited for about 6 weeks for it to arrive, out of print for over 20 years etc.. Quite possibly my most precious book (and I have hundreds)…

So I start walking over to Martina (OH MY GOD THE NERVES ARE COMING BACK TO ME AS I RELIVE THE MOMENT WRITING THIS POST, I CAN STILL FEEL THE BUTTERFLIES), and as Im walking over to her, another little panic attack - I realised the lid to my thick black marker pen was still on the pen.. and I thought 'phil you can't be so rude as to get Martina to take the lid off the pen', so I go to take the lid off my pen, and Im SO NERVOUS and losing my mind that I pull too hard. I cant actually remember whether my hand was even on the pen lid, or whether it was holding the cover of Martina's book, but basically what happened was JUST AS I ARRIVED RIGHT IN FRONT OF MARTINA, I proceeded to RIP THE ENTIRE FRONT COVER OFF OF HER BOOK!!!

So as I got to her, Ive accidentally torn the front cover off her book right at the moment that Im about to say 'can you please sign this martina', my face must have looked in horror at what I had just done. My stomach sank. My face went really hot and red.. and kind of just as that registered, I still turned to martina and handed her the now loose front cover of her book and said 'would you please sign this for me martina'?

She smile and said 'sure'. I handed her the pen, then I sat down beside her (she was in a chair) and the words just tumbled out of my mouth in a torrent. I cant recall the exact order in which I said these things but what I basically said included the following 'Martina I need you to know that you've been a hero and an inspiration to me and so many thousands of other people around the world, you;'ve been my only gay role model and helped me through so many tough moments in my life and I want you to know that I have nearly all your classic matches with chris evert on videotape and I love watching you over and over, you're a truly wonderful human being martina' - Now I said all this without taking a breath or without pausing inbetween sentences so it all came tumbling out in about the time it took her to sign the cover of her book and hand it back to me.

When she handed it back to me she patted me on the shoulder and said 'you've a very sweet boy but you're too young to be a fan of mine' and at that point I couldn’t speak anymore. I just said thank you martina thank you so much…

As I turned around to walk back to my table there were about 12 faces all looking at me with big beaming smiles cuz the people at the table had been privy to the whole rollercoaster of an evening.. The ups and downs as I first thought id get to meet her, then fearful I wouldn’t etc…

Then I went home to my flatmate that night and I just recall the joy I felt whilst reliving it all with my flatmate. By then I had tears as I recalled one of my most precious moments of my life.

To this day, I still have her autobiogrpahy with the sticky taped cover on it with her signature and its my most prized possession.
 

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The ATP is very closed on the whole topic. As far as the public was concenred there was no shock regarding Martina. After all, her book opens with a quote about being mistaken for a boy when younger.

In rereading the book now some things really jump out at me:

1. The whole saga of Martina's mother not telling her things. Hiding the fact that Martina's dad was dead, then hiding that he killed himself. You can see where Martina gets her tendency not to confront people about personal issues. To a much lesser degree I can relate to this. My father never told me until I was 18 that he saw his younger brother get run over and killed AND that he had another 1/2 brother. When my grandfather was dying of cancer my Dad did'nt want to "upset" me because I was in Japan.

2. Martina's (great?) grandmother was #4 in Czechoslovakia or something like that. I need to find the page. And Martina's grandfather tried to make Martina's mother (Jana) into a tennis champion, beating her at times when she wasn't living up to his standards. All of this makes me wonder if the lessons learned the hard way by her mother had a positive effect on a young Martina. The balance between pushing hard enough and too hard is delicate.

Despite some of the wierd family stuff Martina appears to have had great parents, and of course a gem of a gransmum in Grandma Subertova!

P. S. [email protected] Martina almost getting into a fistfight with her grandpa when she was 10!
Yes it is a great book for the insights into the psychology of Navratilova, and yes her love for that grandma is very clear.
 

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That was great Phillbo, that sounds like a real cathartic experience for you.
She is a really genuine person and I am sure was touched and honoured by what you said to her
 

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Loved another great post from you, Philbo! I'm happy for you having spent at least a few moments with your idol Martina. Also, I'm so glad that she was kind. That's good to hear, as I always think of Martina as someone who could be volatile towards fans if you get her on a bad day.

Even though I live in Los Angeles and have encountered stars (I used to work in the movie biz long ago), there are only three people I've ever longed to meet:

Natalie Wood -- died within 2 months of my moving to LA.
Karen Carpenter -- died within 15 months of my moving to LA!
Chris Evert -- been to several tournaments and seen her play, but at the time I was too young-shy to get close. Since then, I just kinda gave up. Maybe one day.

I wouldn't mind meeting Stef now either. But I'd probably wimp out.

AS for Martina, it also bothered me back in the day when Mighty Mart seemed to hedge her bets and claimed to be bi. I seem to remember a claim that she was dating a member of the Dallas Cowboys when she lived there, but I never remember seeing real evidence of such. In retrospect, I think she was protecting herself against loss of income from the prejudices of the time. I can't blame her.

I'm going to pull my Martina bio out today if I can find them (I have two copies -- hardcover from when it first came out, and softcover -- bought in hopes of an update). I remember enjoying reading the book a great deal. I'll contribute more once I've gone over it again.

p.s. I disagree that Chrissie's autobio was "safe." In fact, I found her quite open about the childhood issues of the frugality of her dad, and her need to be with JC -- running away from home so to speak (although she was of age) in the face of her parents concern about the two being sexually intimate.

p.s.s. I don't recall BJK being "Catholic." I know the Moffitts are Christian, but I seem to recall them being Protestant. Where did the Catholic reference surface?
 

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Loved another great post from you, Philbo! I'm happy for you having spent at least a few moments with your idol Martina. Also, I'm so glad that she was kind. That's good to hear, as I always think of Martina as someone who could be volatile towards fans if you get her on a bad day.

Even though I live in Los Angeles and have encountered stars (I used to work in the movie biz long ago), there are only three people I've ever longed to meet:

Natalie Wood -- died within 2 months of my moving to LA.
Karen Carpenter -- died within 15 months of my moving to LA!
Chris Evert -- been to several tournaments and seen her play, but at the time I was too young-shy to get close. Since then, I just kinda gave up. Maybe one day.

I wouldn't mind meeting Stef now either. But I'd probably wimp out.

AS for Martina, it also bothered me back in the day when Mighty Mart seemed to hedge her bets and claimed to be bi. I seem to remember a claim that she was dating a member of the Dallas Cowboys when she lived there, but I never remember seeing real evidence of such. In retrospect, I think she was protecting herself against loss of income from the prejudices of the time. I can't blame her.

I'm going to pull my Martina bio out today if I can find them (I have two copies -- hardcover from when it first came out, and softcover -- bought in hopes of an update). I remember enjoying reading the book a great deal. I'll contribute more once I've gone over it again.

p.s. I disagree that Chrissie's autobio was "safe." In fact, I found her quite open about the childhood issues of the frugality of her dad, and her need to be with JC -- running away from home so to speak (although she was of age) in the face of her parents concern about the two being sexually intimate.

p.s.s. I don't recall BJK being "Catholic." I know the Moffitts are Christian, but I seem to recall them being Protestant. Where did the Catholic reference surface?
You are probably right re Evert and the book. I havent read it properly for ages and maybe it is time to review it:)
And yes I am sure that the Navratilova bisexuality was a front to cover any criticism. In no way can she blamed for that in the context of the times. And of course she was never going to be blatent about it while she was waiting for US citizenship!!!
Yes I thought that BJK came from a protestant upbringing- the catholic may be referencing tradition rather than a religous creed.
And yes Martina could be sharp.When I was 16 in 1986 I went to Eastbourne for the week. Some bald twat in front of me kept clapping when she and Shriver served double faults. She got irritated and looked over a lot. When she and Pam were leaving the court after winning my baldy mate was gone and she yelled at me!!!
I was a tough young guy but I was real embarrassed. Didnt return to my seat on the centre court the next day and just watched doubles and under 21s on an outside court!!!!:eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Yes I thought that BJK came from a protestant upbringing- the catholic may be referencing tradition rather than a religous creed.
I could be wrong on this. I've read Billie King's thoughts on how alike she and Chris were in many ways-for some reason I thought the shared Catholic upbringing was one thing they had in common.

And yes Martina could be sharp.When I was 16 in 1986 I went to Eastbourne for the week. Some bald twat in front of me kept clapping when she and Shriver served double faults. She got irritated and looked over a lot. When she and Pam were leaving the court after winning my baldy mate was gone and she yelled at me!!!
I was a tough young guy but I was real embarrassed. Didnt return to my seat on the centre court the next day and just watched doubles and under 21s on an outside court!!!!
LOL. I first encountered Martina back in 1983 at the Wightman Cup. Security was lax, and I snuck down below the stands to get autographs. Sue Barker was being interviewed and I ran smack into Martina and Pam Shriver. Martina was nice. I was shocked at how small she was-I expected an amazon. At 5'
10" I was easily taller. Pam cracked a joke ("maybe you be our security" or something to that effect) when signed my autograph. The bad mood award of the day went to my idol-her royal highness Virginia Wade. She had her nose in the air when signing. I still love Ginny though. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I read a couple more chapters last night. The whole decision to defect had to be gut-wrenching, even though Martina admits that at 18 she had no idea how tough it would be. At Wimbledon in 1975 her whole family was with her and they almost defected en masse. But they "chickened out" according to Martina. By then the Federation was letting her keep 80% of her prize money, but they insisted on telling her where she could and couldn't play.

Two things caught my eye.

1. Martina's dad telling her "don't come back, no matter what they promise." He also told her to ignore her own family if they begged her to come back. Wise words, as after her defection both the tennis federation and her own family (no doubt under pressure) asked her to come back.

2. Not telling her own mother she was defecting. Jana had made Martina promise NOT to tell her.
 

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I could be wrong on this. I've read Billie King's thoughts on how alike she and Chris were in many ways-for some reason I thought the shared Catholic upbringing was one thing they had in common.



LOL. I first encountered Martina back in 1983 at the Wightman Cup. Security was lax, and I snuck down below the stands to get autographs. Sue Barker was being interviewed and I ran smack into Martina and Pam Shriver. Martina was nice. I was shocked at how small she was-I expected an amazon. At 5'
10" I was easily taller. Pam cracked a joke ("maybe you be our security" or something to that effect) when signed my autograph. The bad mood award of the day went to my idol-her royal highness Virginia Wade. She had her nose in the air when signing. I still love Ginny though. :lol:
I think you should choose BJK for the next book of the month and then we can get into her religion!!!!:cool:
I found Wade excellent and got her autograph a few times at Eastbourne. Navratilova was fine too, I also was surprised at her height.
My partner and I met Virginia outside Roland Garros two years ago. We shouted on her,she came back, posed for photos and discussed Justine Henin. She was great. Maybe in Williamsburg she was fed up with the hammering we were getting:fiery:
 
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