There were probably few better places for Martina Navratilova to make a major life announcement than the U.S. Open, where she won four singles titles and nine doubles titles during a tennis career still considered one of the best in tennis folklore.
The Czech-American icon proposed to her longtime girlfriend, former Russian beauty queen Julia Lemigova, in a TV suite between the two men’s semifinal matches at Flushing Meadows, in New York City, on Saturday. Their engagement was broadcast on the arena’s big screen as legions of tennis fans cheered the couple on, Australia’s 9news reported.
“I was very nervous. It came off, and she said yes,” Navratilova, who still holds the records for most singles and doubles titles in the Open era, told the Associated Press.
Same-sex marriage is not yet legal in Florida, where the couple resides and hopes to tie the knot, but a judge recently ruled that the state’s ban is unconstitutional. Navratilova and Lemigova, who have been together for six years, said they expect the law will change within a year.
Coincidentally, current world No.1 Serena Williams equaled the Navratilova’s record of 18 Grand Slams when she won the U.S. Open a few hours after the proposal. Williams joins Navratilova and Chris Evert in the record books, and will surpass them if she wins another title.
However, that’s probably the last thing on Navratilova’s mind right now.