The Times is pleased to have tennis legend Martina Navaratilova guest-blogging while she competes on “Dancing With the Stars.” Each week, Navratilova, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, will answer a few questions from Sports Now editor Houston Mitchell and give some insight into the competition. Here are Navratilova’s thoughts. which she offered via email, heading into the first night of competition.
Q: Why did you decide to compete?
It really comes down to two things: First, I’ve always been set on facing my fears and ever since I was 14 and my parents put me in a ballroom dancing class, I’ve had this terrible fear of dancing in public -- I don’t even like dancing by myself! I was scared of flying, so I got my pilot’s license, I’m scared of dancing, so what better way to conquer my fear of that than to go on the largest dance floor in the world and compete on “Dancing with the Stars”!
And second, I’ve always been vocal about the importance of staying active and fit, and it’s been instrumental in my success on the tennis court and keeping me at the top of my game for so long. And after you hit a certain age, you know, your body starts to change and staying active becomes even that much more important. That’s why a few years ago I became AARP’s Fitness Ambassador -- and I figure if I’m out there telling folks to get out of their comfort zones, try new activities, and lead healthy lifestyles, I better lead by example. Hopefully by seeing me on the show, people will get motivated to get up and get moving!
Q: You are partnered with Tony Dovolani. How has it been working with him?
He’s a dream! Really, I couldn’t have wished for a better partner. When I’m on the tennis court, I’m in control. But when i walk into rehearsal, it’s Tony’s domain and I have to give up control. Having been a leader all my life, it took me some time to let Tony lead. And he’s been nothing but patient and a great coach. I like to joke he’s also my newest doubles partner! :)
Q: Did any of your tennis training help prepare you for this competition?
Absolutely. It definitely helps that my body is already in gear and ready to go. I’ve got the endurance part down and the discipline to practice. Now I’ve just got to get control of my head and keep it still and the rest of the body is getting there.
Q: Is there any style of dance you are particularly looking forward to?
Honestly, I don’t know that much about ballroom dancing other than what I’ve seen on the previous seasons, so it’s all new to me! I guess the more upbeat dances may be more up my alley since I know I’ve got the endurance for them, and plus it’s more along the lines of music I like to listen to in my everyday life.
Q: The mirrorball trophy looks like a lot of tennis trophies I’ve seen. Will it find a prominent place in your collection if you win?
For sure! I’ve got my eye on the prize and I’d like nothing more than to add it to my mantle. I might have to clear a big space in my living room, remove all the furniture, put the trophy on a pedestal in the middle of it and just dance around it.