Martina Navratilova

Lesbian tennis icon and activist Martina Navratilova will be among the celebrity cast-members in the upcoming season of America’s Dancing With the Stars.

The ABC network announced that the 55-year-old, 18-time Grand Slam champion will take part in the popular television dancing competition, which pairs celebrities with professional dancers.

“I like to conquer my phobia. I was afraid of heights. I got a pilot’s license. My biggest fear was to drown, so I got a SCUBA-diving license. I get embarrassed dancing by myself, so I figured why not do it in front of millions of people,” said Navratilova at the live cast announcement.

She added: “Staying focused on something physical for such a long time is easy for us and it does involve your body. And I think if you excel in one sport, it’s easy to pick up the movements in another.”

Born in Prague in 1956, Navratilova is the only player in history to win Grand Slam titles in four different decades, including a curtain-closing U.S. Open victory in mixed-doubles at the age 49.

“Off the court Navratilova has been a lifelong champion for individual freedom and a pioneer for human rights,” said ABC in a media release. “After receiving her U.S. citizenship in 1981, she publicly acknowledged that she is gay – at a time when such announcements came at great personal cost to public figures.”

Navratilova will partner with dancer Tony Dovolani and the couple will compete against other celebrities including classical singer Katherine Jenkins, actress Melissa Gilbert, The View co-host Sherri Shepard and Grammy Award-winning singer Gladys Knight

The new series of Dancing With the Stars will start airing in the U.S. on the 19th of March.

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