Martina Navratilova has proposed to her partner, Julia Lemigova
IT’S LOVE! Love! For tennis titan Martina Navratilova, who got down on bended knee and proposed to her longtime girlfriend Julia Lemigova at the US Open Saturday.
“We’ve been together six years and I can’t imagine my life without you. Please marry me,” the 57-year-old former world No. 1 asked her 42-year-old former Russian beauty queen girlfriend.
Lemigova said yes and embraced her tennis-pro honey.
Thousands roared, as the romantic moment inside the Tennis Channel suite at Arthur Ashe Stadium was broadcast across the stadium jumbotrons.
The proposal followed the first men’s semi-final match, in which top seed Novak Djokovic was trounced by Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
We’re told Navratilova — who is covering the tournament for the Tennis Channel — presented Lemigova with a three carat diamond engagement ring.
The couple wore outfits designed by top New York fashion designer Nicole Miller, a family friend.
A source told The Post that the couple plans to marry “as soon as possible,” in Miami Dade, Florida.
A nervous-looking Navratilova noted that gay marriage is illegal in their home state.
“I want to talk to you, Julia,” she began. “I know we can’t do this yet in Florida.”
“They live in Coconut Grove, but they plan to travel to Miami-Dade for the wedding as it is one of the only counties in Florida that allows gay marriage,” the source said.
“Martina wants to hold the wedding there to campaign for gay marriage equality in Florida and elsewhere.”
Navratilova and Lemigova at last year’s US Open.
Navratilova, described by Billie Jean King as “the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who’s ever lived,” has been in a relationship with Lemigova — the last Miss USSR before the collapse of the Soviet Union and a Miss Universe Runner up — since 2006.
Lemigova has two children from a previous marriage, and now runs a skincare business.
Navratilova has no children of her own, and previously described the joys of parenting after Lemigova and her children moved in with her.
She told The BBC’s Radio 4 in 2012, “I never really got the opportunity to have a child, but I am in a relationship now with my partner and she has two girls, so I am a parent now.” She added, “Its difficult, two girls, but it’s fun, its amazing.”
Lemigova was also at Navratilova’s side during her successful battle with breast cancer in 2010. The tennis ace told the Huffington Post two years later, “It reinforced my philosophy, which is always kind of ‘seize the day’ and get the most out of what I have at the moment.”
Here they are together at Wimbledon this year.
Romance has sometimes been a rocky, costly and publicly embarrassing journey for Navratilova.
Twice before, her long-term relationships have ended in ugly public palimony suits seeking half her fortune.
In 1991, she split with seven-year girlfriend Judy Nelson, herself a former Texas beauty queen, who sued for a $7.5 million in a case that eventually settled for half that amount.
Nelson penned two books slamming the tennis star: “Love Match: Nelson vs. Navratilova,” and “Choices: My Journey After Leaving My Husband for Martina and a Lesbian Life.”
Martina Navratilova (left) and Judy Nelson.
In 2009, her girlfriend of eight years, Toni Layton, took to the civil courts to demand a 50-50 split of the tennis star’s fortune, which included four multimillion-dollar homes.
“Martina has got a fight on her hands,” Layton hissed in a press statement.
“Without any warning, my life came crashing down around me. I was kicked out on the streets with only the clothes on my back … What I want now is justice,” Layton wrote. “Justice for all those lost, wasted years.”
That suit settled for an estimated $3 million.