Regret leaving Czech Republic: Martina Navratilova

In 1981, an 18-year-old Navratilova defected Communist Czechoslovakia to become a US citizen.

Regret leaving Czech Republic: Martina Navratilova

Kolkata: Legendary Martina Navratilova, who has won a whopping 59 Grand Slam titles in her illustrious career, regrets leaving Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia), the place of her birth, to pursue a career in tennis.

"I regret that I had to leave my country. But I had to do it in order to achieve and decide my own fate. I was forced into it. Democracy came about 15 years too late for me. But I have to say that it's there now and Czech Republic is a fantastic country, it always was but just had the wrong regime at the top," Navratilova said, here on Wednesday.

"For six years, I was really on my own and did not have a coach," the 59-year-old told a news conference on the sidelines of Tennis Masters, the Kolkata leg of the International Premier Tennis League's promotional tour ahead of the 2nd season, which is beginning in Kobe on December 2.

Having lost in the US Open semi-final in 1975, an 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 as she became a US citizen in 1981.

Navratilova has her plate full and has no time for coaching right now.

"At this time no. I'm very happy with my wife (Julia Lemigova). I've a great family, two children to take care of. Then of course I do commentary for TV. I do speak about various women's issues around the world -- like LGBT, motivational speeches. I have a lot on my plate right now. But eventually yes I would like to pass on the knowledge and something that I would like to do," she said.

The tennis legend is an equally successful leader off the court as Martina has lived an equally bold and successful life by being one of the first openly gay sports figures and since coming out in 1981, she has been an inspiring and vocal advocate for equal rights and a strong supporter of many charities benefitting the LGBT community.

Martina further said that she is lucky to have a probelm-free body.

"I am healthy. I have been blessed with a very good body and I have worked hard at it. I had surgery on my toe and I'm still recovering from that. That's the only joint that was hurting. Earlier, I had a knee replacement, hip replacement, shoulder surgeries but I have been lucky. I don't feel any pain when I play. I enjoy playing so I am very happy about that."

Martina along with her partner Leander Paes lost 5-7 5-7 to Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi in the Kolkata leg of the Masters Tennis, which will now move to Hyderabad and New Delhi in the next two days as part of a promotional tour of IPTL.

"I was the one of the most frustrated player on the court out there today when I felt I could have played better than I did. It's the passion for the sport and the love of the game that keeps me going. There is always something different about every single shot, or point. So it's always a challenge."

Navratilova further said winning her first Wimbledon in 1976 and the last one, mixed doubles with Leander Paes, in 2003 were too special moments.

"First one was really special but at the same time winning the last mixed doubles with Leander in 2003 was one of the happiest moments. We did not expect that," Navratilova said.

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