Navratilova proposes on big screen at US Open

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Navratilova proposes on big screen at US Open
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 07: Martina Navratilova and Julia Lemigova watch the men's singles semifinal match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Richard Gasquet of France on Day Thirteen of the 2013 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 7, 2013 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2012 file photo, former tennis player Martina Navratilova, arrives for the Laureus World Sports Awards in London. Navratilova is among several celebrities headed to New Orleans this week to celebrate and promote life after 50. More than a dozen celebrities are hosting talks and activities for aging Americans at the national conference of the AARP, which runs Thursday through Saturday at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and is expected to attract some 20,000 attendees. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, file)
ST TROPEZ, FRANCE - JULY 13: Martina Navratilova and Julia Lemigova take a boatride on July 13, 2014 in Saint-Tropez, France. (Photo by Pierre Suu/GC Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 05: Martina Navratilova and Julia Lemigova sit in the Royal Box on Centre Court before the Ladies' Singles final match between Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic on day twelve of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 07: Martina Navratilova and Julia Lemigova watch the men's singles semifinal match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Richard Gasquet of France on Day Thirteen of the 2013 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 7, 2013 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 07: Martina Navratilova and Julia Lemigova watch the men's singles semifinal match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Richard Gasquet of France on Day Thirteen of the 2013 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 7, 2013 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
In this photo provided by the United Nations, tennis legend Martina addresses the media during a news conference at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Navratilova and former NBA player Jason Collins appeared at the U.N. to urge world sports bodies like the International Olympic Committee and FIFA to do more to support gay athletes. They appeared at the U.N. during a special event celebrating International Human Rights Day. (AP photo/The United Nations, Paulo Filgueiras)
FILE - In this July 15, 2000 file photo, tennis greats Martina Navratilova, left, and Billie Jean King react after their enshrinement at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. On Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, Navratilova and King will be honored in Chicago in the first class of inductees of what organizers say is the first-of-its-kind National Gay & Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
Martina Navratilova participates in the Chris Evert / Raymond James Pro-Celebrity Tennis Classic at the Delray Tennis Center on October 28, 2012 in Delray Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Daly/Invision/AP)
U.S. Serena Williams, 2nd left, smiles as she poses with Belgium's Kim Clijsters, 2nd right, Italy's Francesca Schiavone, left, and U.S. Martina Navratilova as they pose for photographers after an exhibition match "Best of Belgium" at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Thursday July 8, 2010. Clijsters and Williams crossed rackets in a duel before a record number of 35,000 spectators. The former record dates back to 1973, when 30,472 spectators watched the match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in the Astrodome in Houston (Battle of the Sexes). (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
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NEW YORK (AP) - Tennis great Martina Navratilova proposed to her girlfriend on the big screen of Arthur Ashe Stadium between the U.S. Open men's semifinals.

Navratilova popped the question to Julia Lemigova in the Tennis Channel suite Saturday, drawing a loud cheer from the crowd.

"I was very nervous," Navratilova said later. "It came off. She said yes. It was kind of an out-of-body experience. You've seen people propose at sporting events before, in movies, in real life. Here it was happening to me. It was like I was watching myself do it."

The 57-year-old Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, a mark she shares with Chris Evert. Serena Williams will try to match it in Sunday's women's final.

Navratilova said somebody suggested she propose during a changeover in the first match between Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic, but she didn't want to disturb the players in any way. The only problem was that Navratilova was later scheduled to play a "Champions" doubles match with Jana Novotna against Tracy Austin and Gigi Fernandez. She tried unsuccessfully to get the start postponed without telling anybody why, so she was fretting that the Nishikori-Djokovic match would go five sets. Fortunately, it ended in four.

After the triumph in her personal life, Navratilova was also victorious in doubles.

When Navratilova walked into the locker room to get ready for the match, Austin didn't know anything about what had just happened. The two chatted for a few minutes before Navratilova mentioned the proposal in passing.

Austin then made her re-enact the whole thing.

Navratilova said she and Lemigova would prefer to get married in Florida, where they live. A federal judge ruled last month that the state's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, but Florida officials are appealing.

Navratilova reminisced about her 1981 U.S. Open finals loss to Austin, when the fans gave her a long ovation as the runner-up, as the first time she felt accepted as a newly minted American citizen and a gay woman. Thirty-three years later, gay couples can marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and Navratilova's proposal got another big cheer from the U.S. Open crowd.

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