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Navratilova seeks dual citizenship

June 05, 2007|Chuck Culpepper | Special to The Times

PARIS — Martina Navratilova would like to clarify something: Not once has she thought about defecting from the United States to the Czech Republic.

"I'm getting a dual citizenship," she said Monday at Roland Garros, where she's an analyst for the Tennis Channel.

In an interview last week with a prominent Czech newspaper, Navratilova addressed -- but did not link -- two subjects, which the global chatter of the Internet subsequently linked for her.

She stated her intent to gain Czech Republic citizenship, having defected from her native Czechoslovakia in 1975 well before its Communist regime crumbled in the Velvet Revolution in 1989 and before it peacefully split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993.

She also lamented the election of George W. Bush to back-to-back terms as U.S. president.

By the time her words bounced from Prague to European news agencies to Internet news sites, they wound up beneath a bracing headline, "Fed Up With Bush, Tennis Star Navratilova Seeks Czech Citizenship Again."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday June 23, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
Tennis: A chart in the June 5 Sports section that listed the matchups for the French Open quarterfinals incorrectly listed Rafael Nadal's opponent as Nikolay Davydenko. Nadal played fellow Spaniard Carlos Moya.

"How did they get that headline out of what I said?" she said Monday. "That's what aggravates me." She said somebody put "two and two together and got six" and sighed that now she'll have to field the question "for a year."

"I love America. Always have. Always will," said Navratilova, a U.S. citizen since 1981. "It's because I love America that I speak out. Not because I don't. If I didn't care, I wouldn't say anything."

She crystallized her feelings with, "Bush is not representing what America's all about, and that's what is depressing me."

Given the Czech Republic's membership in the European Union since 2004, Czech citizenship would entail European Union citizenship, which individuals can hold dually with U.S. citizenship.

Navratilova, 50, desires the Czech citizenship for personal reasons, "emotional as well as practical," she said. She has mulled it for about five years but hasn't organized the required papers, a hefty task in anyone's case.

At the same time, she said of her U.S. citizenship, "I'm not renouncing that at all."

She plans to remain U.S.-based and outspoken because she deems it a responsibility of visibility. Her outspokenness, she said, dates back to "even before the Patriot Act," which sailed through Congress in October 2001.

She worries about the U.S. image as a "bully," that its leaders "aren't thinking long-term," about "activist judges" rescinding environmental regulations and about "the blurring or separation of church and state. There's no line. It's been erased. And that was the beauty of America."

As with an interview with a German newspaper in 2002 that triggered some flak, perceived censorship topped her concerns in the Czech interview.

"It's not as bad as it was here," she told the newspaper Lidove Noviny (or "People's News"). "But it is true, that censorship exists there."

She said on Monday that she thinks the United States can win back its image as ally and negotiator.

"It definitely can come back," she said.

"I'm not leaving. To leave is to throw in the towel and say I can't do anything. Some people have been fighting too long and they're tired. I'm not tired."




* Today: No. 1 Roger Federer, Switzerland, vs. No. 9 Tommy Robredo, Spain; No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko, Russia, vs. No. 19 Guillermo Canas, Argentina. Wednesday: No. 2 Rafael Nadal, Spain, vs. No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko, Russia; No. 6 Novak Djokovic, Serbia, vs. Igor Andreev, Russia.


* Today: No. 1 Justine Henin, Belgium, vs. No. 8 Serena Williams; No. 2 Maria Sharapova, Russia, vs. No. 9 Anna Chakvetadze, Russia; No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia, vs. No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, Serbia; No. 4 Jelena Jankovic, Serbia, vs. No. 6 Nicole Vaidisova, Czech Republic.

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