BY Jon Barrett
March 08 2011 5:00 AM ET
I’m a little bit jealous of Martina Navratilova. And it’s not because of her tennis prowess, her stamina, or her celebrity—although those are reasons enough to be envious. It’s because if there is one person in the world my boyfriend, Sean, would leave me for, I’m pretty certain it’s Ms. Navratilova.
Now, there’s little question that Sean’s gay, and I’m even more certain that he loves me. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s obsessed with Martina. In fact, he’s such a Navratilova-tron that I suggested senior editor Andrew Harmon sit down with him before flying to Aspen, Colo., to interview the tennis legend.
Sean’s devotion is rooted in more than his beloved’s expertise on the court. I think it’s also about the rejection he faced as a young athlete who was assumed to be gay—and about Navratilova’s so-what-if-I-am, don’t-get-in-my-way, nothing’s-going-to-get-me-down attitude that he wished he had as a kid and has nearly perfected as an adult.
That attitude helped Martina escape communist Czechoslovakia, come out of the closet, win 167 singles titles, beat breast cancer, and, most recently, tackle one of the world’s tallest mountains, Kilimanjaro.
It also landed her on the cover of this year’s health issue. Although, admitting to my adherence to the advice of keeping your competition close, I’d have to say Sean’s crush had a little to do with that as well.