Czech expat Martina Navratilova: US response to coronavirus recalls life under communism

"I feel like I am back in a communist country with all this bullshit propaganda coming out of the White House," the tennis great tweeted

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 15.07.2020 08:06:44 (updated on 15.07.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

Legendary tennis great Martina Navratilova, who was born in Prague but emigrated to the United States in 1975, has recently been reminded of living in communist Czechoslovakia thanks to some aspects of the US response towards the coronavirus crisis.

Specifically, the “authoritarian propaganda” that has purportedly been coming out of the White House.

Last week, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its guidelines for re-opening schools in the country for the upcoming school year – following tweets of disagreement from President Donald Trump.

“If the CDC changes its expert guidance on COVID at the order of the President, is it still expert guidance?” NBC News legal analyst Barb McQuade tweeted in response following the reversal. “Sounds more like authoritarian propaganda.”

McQuade had some high profile support.

“Exactly,” tweeted Navratilova in reply.


“I feel like I am back in a communist country with all this bullshit propaganda coming out of the WH and now CDC.”

Widely considered one of the best tennis players of all time, Navratilova was named the greatest female tennis player for the years 1975-2005 by Tennis magazine. Her 59 combined major titles, including 18 Grand Slam singles titles, are an Open Era record for any player, male or female.

After defecting to the United States from Czechoslovakia in ’75, Navratilova became an American citizen in 1981. She came out as bisexual that year (and later as a lesbian), and has long been an advocate of gay rights and other causes.

She’s also long been an outspoken Democrat and vocal opponent of the United States Republican Party. This isn’t the first time she has compared Republican leaders to authorities in communist Czechoslovakia.

“The most absurd part of my escape from the unjust system is that I have exchanged one system that suppresses free opinion for another,” she told a German newspaper in 2002, later quoted by CNN’s Connie Chung during an interview.

“The Republicans in the U.S. manipulate public opinion and sweep controversial issues under the table. It’s depressing. Decisions in America are based solely on the question of how much money will come out of it and not on the questions of how much health, morals or environment suffer as a result.”

After regaining her Czech citizenship in 2008, she didn’t hide her disdain for then-U.S. President George W. Bush in interviews with Czech media.

“The thing is that we elected Bush,” Navratilova told Lidové noviny at the time. “That is worse. Against that, nobody chose a Communist government in Czechoslovakia.”

Navratilova’s comparisons of the Republican Party to communist authorities are something of an ironic sentiment considering comparisons of the Democratic Party to communists are frequently made by Republicans.

“My mother escaped a communist country, I grew up, I spoke the language, I have friends from communist Czechoslovakia,” Trump Jr. stated at the time. “I waited in those bread lines. I can assure you they are not as glamorous as Bernie and the academia today make them out to be.”

Navratilova, meanwhile, isn’t the only American critical of the country’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

With 3.4 million cases and 138,000 COVID-19-related deaths, coronavirus numbers in the US continue to soar. More than 15,000 COVID-19 cases were recorded on Sunday in Florida alone, a new record for a single state.

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