Martina Navratilova, AARP fitness ambassador, author, commentator and tennis legend, may soon have a mirrorball trophy to add to her case: Navratilova will compete on the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars, which airs for 10 weeks beginning Monday, March 19, on ABC.
Martina, 55, will join two other contestants age 50-plus on this season’s show: Jack Wagner (52) and Gladys Knight (67). Dancing With the Stars pairs each contestant with a professional dancer for a live competition dance on Monday nights. Based on scoring, one pair is eliminated each week; on Tuesday nights, DWTS airs a second weekly show to review the prior night’s action.
Throughout the DWTS season, Navratilova will post regular “Dancing Diaries” entries on AARP.org offering her perspective on the training, competition and vibe from behind the scenes at one of Hollywood’s top TV shows.
We caught up with Navratilova in Paris to find out how she is preparing for her dancing debut, and how she feels about cutting loose in front of millions of TV viewers.
AARP: Is this your first invitation to appear on DWTS?
Martina: They’ve been asking for years, and either I didn’t have the time to commit or I couldn’t picture myself in those high heels. I have an arthritic big toe — from playing too much soccer as a kid. So it hurts in high heels. But [ABC] told me I didn’t have to wear such high heels, so my toe apprehension was alleviated.
AARP: Training for a dance competition every week sounds demanding. How are you approaching this from a fitness standpoint?
Martina: I haven’t done anything this intense since I quit playing [competitive tennis] in 1994. But I think my body’s going to like it — it will be like coming home. It’s not as physical as playing tennis four hours a day, but it is pretty physical. I just have to be careful to not try to do too much, too soon.
AARP: Are you changing your fitness routine for the show?
Martina: Well, I’m looking forward to being more flexible. I get pretty lazy about stretching, but I’ll be forced to stretch for this. You have to if you want to dance well. I’m hoping my male partner will be a bit of a bully and push me. I love learning new stuff and I’m a very good student. But sometimes I need the push.
Next: Navratilova on best and worst dance memories. »
Perhaps Martina will get some inspiration for her appearance on 'Dancing with the Stars' from her idol, Katherine Hepburn.