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Once Again, Tennis Is Disrupted by Politics

  • June 25, 2022

A year later, Navratilova created an international incident when she defected from Czechoslovakia right after losing to Chris Evert in the semifinals of the 1975 U.S. Open. Navratilova, then just 18, felt chafed by the then-Communist Czech government, which controlled her finances, travel visas, even her doubles partners.

“I defected because my country wouldn’t let me out,” Navratilova, who would go on to win 18 major singles championships, including nine Wimbledons and four U.S. Opens, said in an interview this month. “I really had no idea what I was doing or when I would see my family again. I knew I was brave at the time, but I had no idea what a political situation it would create.”

Seven years after Navratilova’s defection, the Chinese player Hu Na fled her hotel room during the 1982 Federation Cup in California and sought political asylum. Her request was granted, but only once, in 1985, did Hu reach the third round at Wimbledon. She ultimately settled in Taiwan.

Andy Roddick doesn’t like to take credit, but he is partly responsible for Shahar Peer of Israel being allowed to compete in the United Arab Emirates.

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