Julia Lemigova says she was shocked when her longtime partner, tennis star Martina Navratilova, turned to her during an interview at the U.S. Open last year and got down on one knee to propose, complete with a diamond ring. Even for Navratilova, the moment was nearly as surprising.
“I’m 58 years old, I got married for the first time – it’s about time, right? Growing up as a gay woman you just don’t ever think about that, and then I thought, about 10 years ago, ‘You know, I think within 10 years gay marriage will be legal.’ And here we are, 10 years later, making it legal,” Navratilova said recently.
“I was so overwhelmed and completely surprised, but I would not expect anything less from Martina,” Lemigova said.
The couple, who have been together since 2006, married on Monday in New York City, and for Navratilova, the union meant more than gaining a wife; she’s also now a parent for the first time in her life, as Lemigova has two children. Her daughter has reportedly been pushing the couple to marry for a long time.
The longtime athlete has been a champion for gay rights for years after coming out in 1981, and says she’s surprised that so few people in the sports world have come out as openly gay.
“I’m surprised more players haven’t come out. Particularly no male players. They’re so far in the closet, I don’t even know who they are,” she said.