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Martina to Mambo on 'Dancing With the Stars' TV Show

Tennis legend Navratilova among 3 over-50 celebrities

AARP: Tell us about your best and worst dance memories.

Martina: My best memory is from Billie Jean King’s 50th birthday party – a big bash in New York. It was at Denim & Diamonds, and I just danced the night away, mostly by myself. I had a couple of tequila shots and felt totally uninhibited. I was just glad it wasn’t me turning 50!

My worst memory is of my first dance lesson as a 14-year old in Prague. My mother put me in this silver and pink lame dress. My hair was all curled, and it was the first time I wore a garter belt. I felt so out of place! Every boy I danced with was going to be a mechanic. When they asked me I said, ‘I’m going to be a tennis player.’ And they said, ‘Oh? You can make a living doing that?’

AARP: From a competition standpoint, how different is DWTS from a tennis match?

Martina: So totally different! This [show] is completely subjective and you are playing to an audience you can’t even see. I’ll be taking my cues from my partner. With tennis, you have one opponent and the ball’s either in or out. You can argue a call, but that’s where it ends. [With DWTS] you are trying to appeal to who knows who.


AARP: So you are trying to win?

Martina: Oh, I want to do well and not be the first one voted off. As an AARP ambassador I always encourage people to step out of their comfort zone. And this is so far out of my comfort zone it’s not even funny. I get self conscious dancing in front of a mirror when there’s nobody else in the room. So I am taking this on as a challenge and, yes, I want to do well.


AARP: Speaking of comfort zones, DWTS contestants seem to slather on the cosmetics for the competition. How do you feel about spray tans and glitter?

Martina: I’ve never used either! It will be a new experience, and I expect to have a lot of new experiences [during the show]. I won’t overdo it to the point where I look like I’m in drag. But we’ll see how tan I am when I get there. Maybe I will have to use spray tan.


AARP: Have you ever watched Dancing With the Stars?

Martina: I watched the season Monica [Seles] was on. Other than that, I watched one show when [former world champion ice skater] Kristi Yamaguchi was on, which I thought was totally unfair. She spent her career dancing on ice and they were like, ‘How can we make this hard? Let’s have her dance on wood!’ I mean, c’mon!


AARP: Have you developed any comebacks for the inevitable gibes you will get about your DWTS appearance from co-commentators at the French Open and Wimbledon?

Martina: I’m sure there will be plenty, and I’ll be ready with some barbs. But what I have to say will depend on how well I do on the show.   

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