Martina Navratilova in Palimony Suit
The ex-wife of champion tennis player Martina Navratilova, 52, has dragged the sporting star to court in a palimony suit for a share of assets acquired while the two were still together.
Claiming that she was "kicked out on the streets with only the clothes on my back," Toni Layton, 56, who celebrated a wedding ceremony with Navratilova in 2000, seeks to enforce an alleged promise between the two that they would share their property.
A June 24 article in the UK newspaper The Daily Mail reports that the property in question includes several homes that the couple purchased, to the tune of millions.
Though the marriage was not a legally binding civil ceremony, Layton’s suit claims that Layton is owed a portion of those assets.
The article said that relationship ended in 2008. The suit seeks damages for the ’emotional, mental and physical trauma’ that Layton says she was subjected to.
The article quoted Layton as saying, "Martina has got a fight on her hands.
"Without any warning, my life came crashing down around me," the quote continued. "I was kicked out on the streets with only the clothes on my back."
The suit regards the promise to "evenly share" property that the couple acquired during their years together as a verbal contract, including several homes, a number of vehicles, and a number of gifts Layton claims to have made to Navratilova.
The article specified a monetary sum of $500,000 being sought in the suit.
The article included Layton’s recollections about the early days of her romance with the tennis star. The two met in New Hampshire, the article reported.
Said Layton, "Our first kiss was outside a 7/11 store.
"She offered me an orange, then began crying as she reminisced about the first time she had ever done that to anyone, for her beloved grandmother.
"I leaned over to kiss her on the cheek in comfort and it just happened," Layton continued. "Everything fell into place for both of us."
The following month the two celebrated their wedding at New Hampshire’s Mount Washington State Park, the article said.
Eight years later, the relationship that had begun so romantically came to an end. Said Layton, "I was left an emotional wreck, with nothing to show for eight years of my life.
"I still suffer nightmares today. It’s something I don’t think I will ever properly recover from."
Added Layton, "But what I want now is justice. Justice for all those lost, wasted years."
Layton also wants a portion of four properties the couple purchased in Florida, although that state’s voters recently approved a constitutional amendment to bar marriage rights for gay and lesbian families.
The enshrinement of anti-gay language in the state’s bedrock law casts the success of Layton’s suit into doubt.
Layton gave voice to criticism of Navratilova and her GLBT equality activism in light of these factors.
Said Layton, "Marti makes out she’s a champion of gay rights and sees herself as an icon for the gay and lesbian community.
"She has publicly urged people who are gay to ’come out’ and stand up for their homosexuality.
"Yet here she is, hiding behind Florida’s antiquated anti same-sex laws, trying not to give me a fair deal for those eight years I was there for her at every minute of the day and night," added Layton.
"If I was a man, married or not, I’d be entitled to half of everything that she earned during those years together," Layton continued.
"But because I’m a woman, it seems, rather conveniently, she believes I’m entitled to next to nothing."
Said Layton, "Marti knew that when she decided it was time to get rid of me and move on with her life. And that is why I am having to sue for a breach of our partnership."
Also at issue is an animal sanctuary established by the two. The 20-acre preserve is located near Nokomis, Florida; Layton says that Navratilova has put the preserve up for sale even though it gives a home to a hundred animals.
The Daily Mail reported on the parallels between Layton’s suit and that brought against Navratilova after the 1991 end of a seven-year relationship with Judy Nelson, who took the athlete to court seeking more than $7 million in "galimony."
Navratilova was born in Prague, but defected to the U.S. in 1975. She became one of the great athletes of the 20th century, racking up a long and impressive record of wins, including nine victories at Wimbledon.
Navratilova became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1981, and came out as a lesbian that same year.