Martina Set For Dancing With The Stars

She's a champion on and off court, but will she be queen of the dance floor? Stay tuned, and be sure to vote!

Published March 18, 2012 07:10

Martina Set For Dancing With The Stars
Martina Navratilova

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA - In a glittering tennis career she spent 332 weeks as No.1 in singles and 237 weeks at No.1 in doubles, but as the 14th series of Dancing With the Stars kicks off in Hollywood on Monday night, the question facing Martina Navratilova is: Does she have the moves required to win over the public and lift the reality show's trophy? How many weeks can she survive this brave new world of sequins and swirls?

Partnered by professional dancer Tony Dovolani, the 55-year-old legend is one of 12 celebrities from the domains of sport and entertainment who will be put to the test in this season's weekly knockout. She follows in the steps of Monica Seles, who participated in the US-based program in 2008; Martina Hingis, who appeared on the UK's Strictly Come Dancing in 2009; and Alicia Molik, who took to the floor in Australia in 2006.

"It's a great opportunity to get outside my comfort zone and try something new," said Navratilova, who cites Mikhail Baryshnikov as her dance hero, and hopes the fancy footwork involved in tennis will stand her in good stead. "Although dancing is very athletic, it's not something I'm particularly good at. But I've mastered a lot of sports in my lifetime, so I believe I can master this.

Taking nothing for granted, the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion added: "If I put too much pressure on myself, I might clutch. So I need to relax and just have fun. The more fun I'm having, the better I will dance. I love to move and it's always fun for me to learn new ways to move, push the limits of my body while it's still capable of pushing the limits, and dancing will help me do that."

Navratilova, who won 167 singles titles and 177 doubles titles before retiring just shy of her own 50th birthday, is health and fitness ambassador for AARP, a non-profit organization with 40 million members that promotes quality of life for the over 50s. While she has admitted to turning down offers to appear on the show for years due to a bothersome arthritic toe, the all-time-great says she gave in when ABC told her she wouldn't have to wear perilously high heels. She has embraced fake tan and hair extensions, however.

"I'm a bit worried about the fast dances because my left toe is really stiff, and I'm having a hard time staying up on my toes," said Navratilova, who will launch her title bid by tackling the fox trot. "But I am also learning I don't need to be so high on my toes in the first place, so that helps. I've just got to learn to be light on my feet.

"I try to challenge people to do get out of their comfort zones, so I know I must lead by example," she added. "And speaking of leading, I'm a bit of a control freak, so I really need to let Tony lead!"

Martina and Tony are both Tweeting about their experience on DWTS as @Martina and @TonyDovolani. To find out more about Team Martina and Tony (#TeamSweetSpot), click here.

Most importantly, if you are in the US, please support Martina by voting for her on Monday! Dancing With The Stars commences March 19 with a live two hour premiere on ABC at 8|7c. Navratilova's rivals include music icon Gladys Knight, actress Melissa Gilbert, and American football star Donald Driver. Her greatest rival on the courts, Chris Evert, will be in the studio to cheer on her friend.

To vote for Team Martina & Tony…
CALL: 1-800-VOTE4-09
TEXT: "VOTE" to 3409
GO ONLINE: www.abc.go.com

Find out more about Martina at her official website: www.martinanavratilova.com.

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