The pair got engaged at the 2014 US Open and married later that year.
“We never talked about gay relationships in Russia,” Lemigova said in a statement obtained by Page Six. “It’s only when I left Moscow and moved to Paris that I discovered that there were all types of relationships and loves.”
“Even though I had relationships with other women, it was in a private closed circle. I couldn’t imagine holding another woman’s hand on the street. I was very much in the closet all those years.”
In a nightclub in Paris in 2000, the real housewife met Navratilova for the first time. Even though it was just a quick encounter, the tennis player recalled the beauty queen when they ran into each other years later at the French Open.
“We bumped into each other in the players’ restaurant,” Lemigova recounted. “I literally bumped into her with a tray of food. She remembered me. And I asked her to have breakfast with me the next day. Then we had another breakfast the next day and then one more breakfast. And then she moved in.”
She never openly admitted her love for Navratilova, regardless of the fact that she must have upset her and they were living together. “She’s a pioneer of LGBTQ liberation and being herself. When she tried to hold my hand, I would say, ‘Darling, we cannot do this. We’re in Paris.”
“What if somebody sees us, the neighbors?’” Lemigova added, regretfully. “I don’t even know how she stayed with me for so long. It’s only when I came to Miami that I was open. This town helped me come out of the closet. And then I was thinking, ‘Oh my god, what a fool I was. How could I wait for so long?’”
Navratilova proposed to Lemigova during the 2014 US Open, and the couple married later that year, with Brooke Shields, Chris Evert, Lynda Carter, and models Karolina Kurkova and Rachel Hunter in attendance.
“I’m happy to share my life with Martina — how we live, our family, our kids and our interaction with the animals on the farm,” she concluded. “I have the amazing opportunity to show that love has no gender and love is love.”