Martina Navratilova Gets Spraytanned and Fake Lashes for 'DWTS'

Martina Navratilova knows a thing or two about winning. In addition to being ranked No. 1 in the world for her skills on the tennis court, Navratilova has been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum, designated the Women's Tennis Association Player of the Year more than half a dozen times and named the International Tennis Federation World Champ for six years. And the accolades and awards don’t stop there. For her next set, Navratilova will be serving up her version of the cha-cha by putting her best foot forward on “Dancing with the Stars” and showing the world she can still give a grand slam performance. An edited version of our phone interview with her follows


by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
martina navratilova is ready to cut a rug image
Photograph: Courtesy of Payam

More: Congratulations on DWTS. What attracted you to the ballroom dance floor?
Martina Navratilova: I always wanted to learn how to dance. When I retired from tennis, I thought I would take some dance lessons, but I get pretty embarrassed dancing by myself. I was actually asked a number of times to do this show, but I kept thinking, "No, I can’t do this in front of all of these people."

More: Why the change of heart?
MN: I have this thing about conquering my fears. When I had a fear of flying, I got my pilot's license. I was afraid of drowning, so I got my scuba license. Since I am the ambassador for AARP, I needed to step up to the plate and conquer this and show people how much fun dancing can be. I haven’t done anything new in a while, so I made this is my challenge of the year.

More: The outfits are also way different here from the ones you used to wear on the tennis courts.
MN: Yeah! I can’t imagine what it would be like to play tennis in a ballroom dress. I have to say I am really enjoying the whole production of doing the hair, the makeup, the spray tan, the eyelashes and the glitter. Plus, I also like wearing the high heels, since they weren’t as high as I thought they would be. Because we are performing, we all need to play and look the part.

More: How does getting all glam make you feel?
MN: When they do my hair and I put on the high heels, I feel so sexy.

More: This competition should be a breeze for you, since you used to performing intense matches in front of billions of eyeballs.
MN: I knew what I was doing there. I am a novice here. I need to learn all of these new dances in just a few weeks and then perform them in front of 30 million people. Doing something like that is way out of my comfort zone.

More: There must be something that works to your advantage.
MN: The discipline, concentration and focus. I have to succeed on the tennis court and now will channel that energy into succeeding on the dance floor.

More: This is a grueling competition. Healthwise, how are you are feeling, given that you recently had a few scares [Navratilova was diagnosed with breast cancer and suffered a pulmonary edema.]
MN: Absolutely great. I have been dancing for two and a half weeks, and my body has been holding up great. I have had no major pains or aches. The only injury I suffered recently was when I stubbed my little left toe when I was in the Bahamas. That, I should add, had nothing to do with dancing.

More: Your name is synonymous with the title “world champion.” Why did you recently classify yourself in an interview as the underdog?
MN: My partner, Tony Dovolani, and I were labeled the 20-to-1 underdog, but I will prove them wrong.

More: Half of the battle is scoring in the popularity department, which you should have no trouble with, since you used to be ranked No. 1 in the world.
MN: I think being a champion and having the experience of performing under pressure is having an edge.

More: Good—so no butterflies in the stomach?
MN: You always worry you are going to somehow embarrass yourself. But because I have the experience of being in the zone and in the moment because of my tennis career, I plan on just focusing on that and doing the best I can.

More: If you could play a match with any three tennis players—past or present—who might they be?
MN: Suzanne Lenglen, Bill Tilden and Rob Laver. I want a mixed doubles match. I have played with all of the greats in my generation, but Suzanne and Bill were the greatest of theirs.

First Published March 19, 2012

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So glad she has the courage to do this. Martina has been a role model over the years and continues to be that role model with the message to take on the scary things...even as we grow older. We are never too old to have courage. Way to go us how it's done.

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