Czech native Martina Navratilova was a fearsome presence on the tennis court for 20 years.
She has won more singles and doubles tournaments than any other woman, but she was forced to defect from her homeland to the US in order to do.
She defected to the United States at the 1975 US Open, shortly before her 19th birthday. Navratilova felt she had to defect in order to develop as a tennis player and as a person, but the decision was a painful one. She knew it would be years before she would be able to see her parents and younger sister again, because she could not return to Czechoslovakia and they could not leave the country.
Still she held by her decision. When the press began to speculate about her sexual orientation, she made little effort to hide the fact that she was gay. "I never thought there was anything strange about being gay," she remarked in her autobiography.
In 1978, Navratilova won her first Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon after beating Chris Evert in three sets. As a result, she was ranked the world number one female tennis player for the first time.
The following year, she successfully defended her Wimbledon title, again beating Evert in the final, and retained her world number one ranking. In 1981, she won the Australian Open after beating Evert in the final and reached the final of the US Open the same year.
In 1982, Navratilova won both Wimbledon and the French Open. She become the most dominant female tennis player in the world after this, winning three of the four Grand Slam singles titles in 1983 and only losing six matches over the course of 1982 to 1984.
Named Female Athlete of the Decade for the 1980s by National Sports Review, United Press International and the Associated Press, she has for years, personified tennis greatness and unbridled athleticism.
In total, she won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Grand Slam women's doubles titles (an all-time record), and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.
She reached the Wimbledon singles final 12 times, including nine consecutive years from 1982 through 1990, and won the women's singles title at Wimbledon a record nine times. She also ties Billie Jean King's 20 Wimbledon titles by winning the mixed doubles in 2006. This was her last career match at the ground.
On 7 April 2010, she announced that she was being treated for breast cancer after a routine mammogram in January that year revealed a tumour. She had the tumour surgically removed and received radiation therapy in May 2010, helping her beat the disease.
Navratilova has since appeared on ITV's 'I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!' and made her debut on 'Dancing with the Stars' in the US on 20 March 2012. Despite coming bottom of the leader board, she wowed audiences with her new long blonde locks.