Today's Birthday 18/10

Tiffanie Turnbull
Tennis great Martina Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam titles

Today's birthday, October 18: Czech American Tennis champion Martina Navratilova (1956 - )

Winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles, Martina Navratilova dominated women's tennis for over a decade in the pinnacle of her career.

Born in Prague in 1956, sporting pedigree runs in Navratilova veins. Her father was a professional ski instructor, and her mother an accomplished gymnast, tennis player and skier.

Navratilova's parents divorced when she was three years old, and her mother remarried tennis coach Miroslav Navratil, who later became his stepdaughter's first instructor.

She was playing regularly by the age of seven, and at 15 won the Czech National Championship.

A year later, she started competing in the professional international circuit. She won her first singles title and fell in love with America.

She defected there two years later, becoming a US citizen soon after.

In 1975 she won her first Doubles Grand Slam, taking out the French Open with partner Chris Evert.

The pair won the Doubles Title at Wimbledon the year after, and Navratilova won the US Open with a different partner the next year.

Navratilova's first single Grand Slam title came in 1978 at Wimbledon, where she became number one seed.

She dominated the circuit over the next dozen years, winning 18 singles titles, 31 major women's doubles titles and 20 major mixed doubles titles.

Six of those Grand Slam singles titles were consecutive wins at Wimbledon between 1982 and 1987.

Navratilova retired in 2006 after capping off her career with a US Open mixed doubles win, becoming the oldest player in open history to win a major title just a month shy of her 50th birthday.

She spent a total of 332 weeks in the number one spot and is the second-most decorated tennis star in history with 59 major championships, behind Australian Margaret Court's 62.

One of the first openly gay sports figures, Navratilova became a role model and vocal advocate for equal rights.

She married longtime girlfriend and former model Julia Lemigova in 2014.