The 59-times Grand Slam champ faced one of her toughest challenges - keeping up with the Boat Race squad in her first ever rowing lesson

I was neutral at the last Boat Race - but not any more!

Lucy Cavendish honorary fellow and tennis legend Martina Navratilova

Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club gained a surprise new crew member in their training session yesterday - tennis legend Martina Navratilova.

Navratilova, in Cambridge to receive an honorary fellowship from Lucy Cavendish College, began with a five-minute masterclass from boat club chief coach Rob Baker in a “training tub” tethered to the bank.

Having got the hang of the basics, it was time to move up to joining this year’s Boat Race squad in the 8-seater used in the Oxford-Cambridge boat race.

Before setting out, Navratilova confessed: “I’ve been in canoes and little old row boats – the usual – and I’ve done a lot on the machine, but this is the first time in one of these!”

Supported from the riverbank by a crowd including Lucy Cavendish President Jackie Ashley and Cath Bishop, Chair of CUWBC, the squad put Navratilova, 59, through her paces.

Full Blue Myriam Goudet, of Lucy Cavendish College, described rowing alongside the former world number one as an inspiration.

She said: “She’s a strong example of how we can be a leader in the world.  We are really pleased to have her here.”

Back on dry land, the nine-times Wimbledon champ declared: That’s a blast – the timing has to be just right!” 

Turning to her fellow squad members she asked: “Did I pass the test?”

The answer, without missing a beat, from Bishop - “You’re a natural.”

That evening, Navratilova celebrated a bumper collection of Blues and Half Blues achieved by the sportswomen of Lucy Cavendish College – the only Cambridge college for women aged 21 and over – for their participation in University sport at the highest level.

She presented certificates to all students achieving a Blue or Half Blue during a Sports Formal Hall.


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