In the end, even her fabulous tennis footwork — and having the likes of Chris Evert and Jimmy Connors cheering her on — couldn't save her. Tennis legend Martina Navratilova had to endure the worst kind of Dancing With The Stars rejection: Being voted off first.
In any other season, she might have been forgiven a messy and uncomfortable second dance, which was Monday night's jive. But Season 14 is the most competitive, ever, with a cast demonstrating astonishing across-the-board dance ability. Navratilova, knowing her odds like a Vegas bookie, knew that in dancing she would never be seeded first. "There's a lot of people [competing here] who have dance experience," Navratilova said moments after the show. "I think I ran into a buzz saw, there. I think I would've had a better shot any other year."
Her pro partner, Tony Dovolani, was devastated. "She's one of the most wonderful people I've ever had the chance to work with," he said. "Not only is she a female icon, but she probably has the kindest heart I've ever met. I'm actually pretty destroyed right now. The only regret I have is that I wasn't able to take her further."
Strangely, given the fact that Navratilova scored a 20 for her first week's fox trot, and only 17 for her jive on Monday night, she says she felt more comfortable with the latter. "I really felt so much more confident yesterday than I did last week," she says. "I started feeling the dances better." Could she compare her ouster to losing on the court? "No," she says, "because this is completely out of my hands. I tried, and I'm very much out of my comfort zone. It's the pressure of doing that one dance, and that's it. You don't get to do it over."
She's putting her money on Disney kid Roshon Fegan and classical singer Katherine Jenkins to go all the way, and says she'll keep watching to see how it plays out. But she'll miss the hair and makeup. "I enjoyed being transformed on the show," says Navratilova. "I enjoyed what it did to my body, and my mind."
Will she try to keep the wardrobe? She looks down at her red fringed pants and the fishnet covering her midriff. "Not this!" she says, laughing.