IHRSA came out with some breaking news Monday when it announced that tennis great Martina Navratilova will be speaking at the IHRSA show on March 8 in San Diego. This news definitely excited our staff, since we're all big tennis fans.
Perhaps few athletes dominated their sport the way Martina did in the 1980s. Of her nine Wimbledon titles, six came consecutively from 1982 to 1987. That was an era when Chris Evert was just past her prime and when Steffi Graf was about to take over. In her career, Martina won 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 59 Grand Slam titles overall, including mixed doubles titles in 2003 and 2006 in her late 40s. ESPN ranked her as the 19th greatest athlete of the 20th Century and the second greatest female athlete behind Babe Didrikson.
I think Martina is as beloved now as she ever was when she ruled the world. Even though she perfected the art of serve-and-volley in women's tennis and radically changed her body through intense physical training, people didn't respond well to her machine-like consistency, and they were certainly leery of her sexual preferences. Because of that, she did not receive the endorsements that Evert and many of her contemporaries got back then. Now at 51, Martina endorses Under Armour and, interestingly enough, SPRI products. On her Web site, she says she used SPRI products for the exercise portion of her book "Shape Your Self."
There's one problem with Martina's speaking engagement at the IHRSA show: It's at 9 a.m. on that Saturday, and my flight leaves at 12:15 p.m. Hopefully, after about an hour-long speech, I can grab my bags and head straight to the airport. I'll see if Martina can get me a police escort.