“In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand described what is surely one of the most emotionally charged tennis matches ever played. But her connection with the game does not end there. Tennis great Martina Navratilova is a Rand fan. When asked to name her favorite book, she picked The Fountainhead and explained her choice in this way. ‘The striving for excellence, sticking to your beliefs and ideals even if it means going against the popular tide. Accepting responsibility—wow, what a concept—too bad politicians don’t read these books.’
“Amazingly, Navratilova’s great opponent, Chris Evert, is also a Rand fan. Asked about her favorite book, she responded in the February 2003 issue of Good Housekeeping: ‘When I was younger, a book that made a big impression on me was Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read it when I was first making the rounds of tennis tournaments.’
“From March 1973 to November 1988, these two fans of Rand’s novel created the greatest one-on-one rivalry in sports history, facing each other eighty times, including sixty finals. Said Evert after it was over: ‘We brought out the best in each other.’”
Postscript: The Atlas Society editor recalls that in a published interview, another female tennis immortal, Billie Jean King, also named Atlas Shrugged as her favorite novel. Other sports greats who have cited Rand’s work as a profound and inspiring influence on their lives include former Baltimore Orioles’s stars Cal Ripken, Jr., and Brady Anderson, and golf champion David Duvall.