Martina Navratilova

Martina Navratilova Martina Navratilova has the distinction of being the greatest Wimbledon champion of the Open Era, winning the Ladies’ Singles Championships a record nine times, including six years running between 1982 and 1987, and twenty titles in all in SW19. Indeed, Navratilova was the dominant force in women’s tennis in the late Seventies and the Eighties, to which her career record of 59 Grand Slam titles – 18 singles, 31 doubles and 10 mixed doubles – bears testament.

Born Martina Subertova in Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic, on October 18, 1956, Martina Navratilova took the feminised form of the surname of her stepfather, Miroslav Navratil, when her mother remarried in 1962. Her left-handed, serve and volley style first attracted international attention when she led Czechoslovakia to a 3-0 victory over an Australian team, which included Evonne Goolagong, in the final of the Federation Cup in 1975. That September, after reaching the semi-finals of the US Open, Navratilova requested political asylum in the United States and was granted temporary residence. She was immediately stripped of her Czech nationality – although she became a Czech citizen once again in 2008 – and became an US citizen in 1981.

Interestingly, Navratilova won just three of her 18 Grand Slam singles titles before she turned 25. Throughout the Eighties, she shared a legendary rivalry with American Chris Evert. By contrast to Navratilova, Evert was a powerful baseline player with, arguably, the best two-handed backhand in the game. Initially Evert, who excelled on clay and hardcourt, dominated their encounters, but overall Navratilova beat her 43-37 head-to-head and, crucially, 10-4 in Grand Slam finals.

Martina Navratilova v Chris Evert: Wimbledon Final 1978

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Pelé

Pelé In a poll commissioned by the ‘History Channel’ in 2018, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, was voted the greatest footballer of all time, ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Pelé retired from professional football, at the age of 36, in October, 1977, but, in his heyday, achieved superstar status not only in his native Brazil, but around the world.

Born in the city of Três Corações, Minas Gerais, in the Southeast Region of Brazil on October 23, 1940, Pelé made his first team debut for São Paulo club Santos FC in 1956 and his first team debut for the Brazilian national team the following year. Indeed, his goal in the 2-1 defeat by Argentina at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on July 7, 1957, made him the youngest ever scorer for Brazil, a record that he still holds.

In 1958, at the age of 17, Pelé became the youngest player to appear in a FIFA World Cup final, scoring twice in a 5-2 defeat of hosts Sweden. He would win the FIFA World Cup again in 1962 and, after suffering a torrid time in 1966, when Brazil failed to progress from the group stages, again in 1970, to become the only three-time winner in history. All told, ‘Pérola Negra’, or ‘Black Pearl’, as Pelé was sometime known, scored 77 goals in 92 official appearances for Brazil, including 12 in 14 games at the World Cup, and remains the all-time leading goalscorer for his country.

At club level, Pelé played for Santos FC for nineteen seasons, winning the Campeonato Paulista nine times and the Copa Libertadores de América and the Intercontinental Cup twice apiece. He retired from Brazilian club football in 1974, but joined New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League, to no little fanfare, the following season.

Pele -Top 10 ‘Impossible Goals’

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