The Mutual Inspirations Festival 2016 – Martina Navrátilová was truly inspirational. Over 2,500 people attended over twenty events honoring the Czech-American champion of unsurpassed records on the tennis court and human rights matters off the court.
The Embassy of the Czech Republic with its prestigious partners such as The Washington Post, the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, Georgetown University, American University Museum’s Katzen Arts Center, and the Avalon Theatre honored Martina Navrátilová’s leadership in sport and issues close to her heart concerning women, the LGBT community, and healthy living.
Today, October 18, marks the 60th birthday of tennis legend Martina Navrátilová. From her extraordinary achievements of 59 Grand Slam titles on the tennis court to being a recognized role model in the Czech Republic, the United States, and around the world, Martina has been an inspiration to so many. She strives to stay true to herself with each passing year. May she continue to change the world for the better through her example!
Standing before representatives from sports federations, governments, sponsors, unions, rights advocates and athletes, tennis champion Martina Navrátilová gave a riveting speech at the US State Department on October 13, 2016, sharing three key principles to add to the first of its kind, prestigious conference: “Sport has the power to change the world, sport should be safe and accessible for all, and, when sport is not safe and accessible for all, there is a responsibility to do something about it.”
The Embassy of the Czech Republic welcomed in the evening of October 6 a packed house to its documentary screening of director Olga Sommerová's Věra 68, presented in tribute to the most accomplished Czech Olympic athlete, Věra Čáslavská, who recently died in August at the age of 74. The film recollected Věra’s Olympic success in Tokyo in 1964 with three gold medals and in Mexico City in 1968 with four gold medals as well as her protest against the 1968 Soviet bloc invasion of Czechoslovakia from the medal podium of those Mexico games. Věra turned her head down and away from the Soviet flag when the anthem was played at two of her medal ceremonies. For this act along with her signature on the 2000 Words (a manifesto calling for reforms), she was reduced to cleaning houses upon her return from the games. Still, that year, she was voted the world's second most popular woman, right after Jackie Kennedy. The audience at the Embassy was absolutely enthralled by Věra’s life story as almost 50 years later it is not widely known in the West. The program was a part of the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2016 – Martina Navrátilová, honoring women athletes who lived under the Czechoslovak totalitarian regime while striving to reach the top in their respective sport.
The Czech Embassy’s main hall transformed into a fitness facility in the evening of October 4 as an eager class of women trained under the direction of CrossFit Athlete, Head Coach, and Director of CrossFit Balance in Thomas Circle Danielle Dionne. The group sweated through the work out of the day, performing constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity and learning the proper forms for pushups, burpees and squats. CrossFit Athletes Karolin Nilsson and Zoe Pond McPherson, who recently earned the title of the “fittest woman” in the Philippines in Crossfit, were on hand to assist and answer questions about the sport and healthy living. The event was inspired by tennis legend Martina Navratilova’s love to train through many different sports and varied intensity conditioning to reach the best shape of her life, which is documented in her book Shape Yourself on proper physical fitness and nutrition.
A beautiful, intimate ceremony with former First Lady of the Czech Republic Dagmar Havlová commemorated the 80th anniversary of the birth of Czech President Václav Havel at the Václav Havel’s Place at Alumni Square at Georgetown University on September 27 at 1 pm. Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Jan Hamáček and Ambassador of the Czech Republic Petr Gandalovič offered their remarks on Václav Havel’s legacy. Georgetown students in Theater & Performance Studies Program, led by Professor Natsu Onoda Power, performed the late President’s poem, This is How I Begin. After being announced as the winner of the essay competition The Salvation of this Human World and receiving a trip to the Czech Republic, complements of the Embassy of the Czech Republic and CzechTourism, Georgetown student Melina Delkic read her winning essay, stating that “The only thing greater than receiving the gift of human compassion in a time of crisis is to give it to someone else.” To conclude, Czech musician Jaroslav Hutka, performed Havlíčku, Havle, a song associated with the revolutionary atmosphere of 1989 in former Czechoslovakia and dedicated to his friend and former fellow dissident, President Václav Havel. The participants and guests then symbolically tied ribbons in the tri-colors of the Czech flag on the site’s linden tree to remember the Velvet Revolution.
The Alliance for New Music-Theatre presented the play Protest, written by Václav Havel and directed by Susan Galbraith, recreated in the original staging atmosphere of “apartment theater” at the residence of the Ambassador of the Czech Republic on September 26. Actors Drew Valens and David Millstone played the roles of Vaněk and Staněk. The special evening was highlighted by such distinguished guests as former First Lady of the Czech Republic, Dagmar Havlová, and Czech Speaker Jan Hamáček. The evening served to remember the 80th anniversary of the birth of Czech President Václav Havel. Through the play, Havel’s “Vaněk” became a kind of alter-ego or at least a much-beloved symbol of a counter-culture that later would bring about the Velvet Revolution. After the fall of communism, Havel spoke on February 2, 1990, to a joint session of the US Congress. Among those watching was Martina Navrátilová, who wiped tears from her eyes as Havel spoke. His leadership helped bring about democracy in Martina’s homeland. In commemorating Havel’s legacy, the Alliance also performed the play to sold out audiences at the Woodrow Wilson House on September 27 and 28.
Praised Czech artist Dita Pepe opened her exhibition Love Yourself before a captivated audience at the Embassy of the Czech Republic on September 22. The photography project documents and examines the beliefs and values of women from all walks of life and uses photography as a therapeutic means to self-love and happiness. Head of the Public Diplomacy Department at the Czech Embassy Pavla Veličkinová noted that the artist really delves into the stories of the women – the mothers, wives, and professionals - she portrayed. The exhibition was a part of the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2016 – Martina Navrátilová, honoring a woman who became the best tennis player of all time while struggling with her own image and identity and learning to love herself.
Acclaimed Czech director Irena Pavlásková presented Photographer (Fotograf), a film inspired by the unruly life of popular artist-turned-celebrity photographer Jan Saudek, during a special screening collaborated upon by the American University Museum (AU) at the Katzen Arts Center and the Embassy of the Czech Republic at the Katzen Arts Center on September 20. In the film, Jan Saudek is portrayed by Czech actor Karel Roden, who focuses on the internationally renowned genius’ love for women, particularly the female form of all shapes and sizes, and his relationships with them. The Head of the Public Diplomacy Department at the Czech Embassy, Pavla Veličkinová, opened the screening, praising the directress for her thoroughness, honesty, and ability to capture the ambiguousness of Jan Saudek, while exposing the artist’s eccentric personality. During questions and answers from a captivated audience, Irena Pavlásková gave credit to actor Karel Roden, noting that, “When Jan Saudek saw the film, he said, ‘He is more me than me!’”
As part of the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2016 – Martina Navrátilová, the Embassy of the Czech Republic organized a brief meeting for Martina Navrátilová and the leadership of the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF), an educational and tennis organization for underserved children in Washington, DC. Martina donated her own tennis racket, autographed, to the organization, which aims to keep low-income children and youth off the street through tennis and academic tutoring.
Ambassador of the Czech Republic Petr Gandalovič and his wife held a gala dinner as part of the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2016- Martina Navrátilová in the Czech Embassy’s hall to recognize the achievements and inspirational leadership of Martina Navrátilová, the best tennis player of all time. Before numerous distinguished guests, the Ambassador praised that, “As a citizen of our two states, a proud Czech and a proud American, Martina literally represents what the Mutual Inspirations Festival is about.” Reflecting on a similar thought, the Director for Central and Northern European Affairs of the National Security Council, Brian Johnson, read a Message about the festival from US President Barack Obama, stating, “For generations, the Czech and American peoples have drawn meaning from the examples set by one another in the arts, in athletics, and through achievements spanning disciplines and mediums across our societies.”
Photo courtesy of Lillis Werder
The Embassy of the Czech Republic, in collaboration with the Washington Post, held an exclusive sit-down talk with Czech-American tennis legend Martina Navrátilová and Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak on September 12. Over 200 attendees gathered during their lunch period in an impressive space at the Washington Post to listen to Martina discuss her career, life, and beyond, even touching upon current issues in both tennis and politics. Being recognized as an inspiration in her birth country as well as the United States, Martina noted that she strives to “stay true to herself,” despite her opinions preventing her from “getting onto the box of Wheaties.” Taking questions from the public as well, Martina didn’t shy away from speaking about prejudices facing women and the LGBT community. She also touched upon her difficult decision at the early of age of 18 to leave the former communist Czechoslovakia to pursue her dream of playing tennis. Still, she stressed that she “doesn’t put nationalism above being a human being.”
Photo courtesy of Lillis Werder
On September 8, 2016, Ambassador Petr Gandalovič welcomed 120 visitors at the Czech Embassy during a Wimbledon themed evening and launched the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2016 – Martina Navrátilová, speaking highly of the Czech-American tennis legend. Martina “is not only an extraordinary athlete but also a pioneer for the LGBT community and healthy living lifestyles,“ the Ambassador noted. The Head of the Public Diplomacy Department, Pavla Veličkinová, then served up an overview of this year’s festival and its numerous events. While chair umpires picked out the best dressed for prizes, the guests enjoyed a unique gallery of photos from Martina’s life. The highlight of the party was the amazing DJ Tom from Prague, lighting up a laser extravaganza and spinning music from the years when Martina Navrátilová dominated the world as number 1. Photo courtesy of GregsListDC
Just go out there and do what you have to do. ~ Martina Navrátilová
The Embassy of the Czech Republic announces the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2016 – Martina Navrátilová, honoring the best tennis player of all time, among men and women, in Washington, DC, from September 8–November 20, 2016. Enjoy a talk with Martina, grand slam dance party, photo exhibition, theatrical performance, special fitness workout, powerful documentaries, and more!
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Martina Navrátilova wins Wimbledon,1987
This site is currently being "worked out." The Embassy of the Czech Republic will launch the website of the Mutual Inspirations Festival 2016 on May 14, during the EU Open House. We look forward to sharing upcoming festival events with you. In the meantime, check out Martina's life by clicking on "Martina Navrátilová" in the menu on the left. Furthermore, we would like to thank Getty Images for supplying a number of the photos for this site. Please check back for updates periodically as we move towards the festival opening on September 8, 2016! We hope to have you energized for the fall.