Book review: Martina

Martina Navratilova

by Martina Navratilova
Published by Knopf (May 12, 1985)
Buy it at: Amazon

The best trivia

  • When Martina Navratilova began finding success in tennis, she got a new Mercedes to replace her run-down Toyota. She had the custom license plate X-CZECH.
  • After defecting from the USSR, Martina embraced American food a little too much. A diet of Big Macs, Whoppers, and IHOP led to a peak weight of 167 pounds. She later joked that she was “Big Macking [her] way across America.”
  • A few years, Martina and her tennis-star friends had a wandering troupe called Ladies of the Evening, just for fun. They performed Swan Lake and had a disco talent show.

The sports memoir that actually reveals something

Maybe it’s all that time on the court concentrating, but tennis stars are unique in the sports world—they occasionally have interesting memoirs. This one, Martina’s first entry in a varied literary career, shows how fascinating a candid memoir can be.

Written in 1985, it doesn’t cover the full scope of her career, but it does recall the details with verve and humor. What other star would admit she hired an attendant just to make her Polish sausages? Martina takes us from her childhood in the USSR to tennis stardom in the USA, and instead of polishing her story with Believe In Yourself bromides, she motivates by revealing her mistakes (and letting us know that she used to smoke while running).

A fascinating story of tennis, stardom, and America, Martina is still as unique as it was when it was published.

What the book is

Martina sticks to the life and times of Martina up to 1985. It’s mostly about her life, though some tennis patter sneaks in.

What the book isn’t

You won’t find details on Martina’s full career, and you won’t find tennis or diet tips. This book is about her life, not its trappings.

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