For years, Judy Nelson traveled the world with Martina Navratilova, shared homes with her in an exclusive city here and in Aspen, Colo., and sat at courtside while Navratilova won tennis championships. Now, it appears, the two may face off in civil court in a multimillion-dollar contest over houses, cars and much of Navratilova's $15-million in winnings.
In documents filed this week, Nelson, the former wife of a Fort Worth doctor, contends that Navratilova _ the current Wimbledon champion and arguably the best female tennis player in history _ has not lived up to the terms of a 1986 "non-marital cohabitation agreement" they signed after moving into a house in Westover Hills, an exclusive city surrounded by Fort Worth.
That agreement _ which contains in its wording "the mutual promise of each partner to act as companion and homemaker to the other" _ specifically states that neither woman would owe the other support but would split what assets they had should they end their living arrangement.
"It's a whole new concept," said Nelson's attorney, Jerry Loftin of Fort Worth. "There's alimony, palimony and this is partner-mony. We're not asking for support.
"We're asking for half of the assets accumulated during the partnership. We're talking $5- to $10-million. We're saying (Navratilova) doesn't want to abide by the agreement to turn over the property and money," he said.
Navratilova's attorney, Mike McCurley of Dallas, disagreed.
"This is an attempt to disguise a palimony suit as a partnership suit," McCurley said. "Obviously these folks have a very serious difference of opinion that will have to be dealt with legally."
Neither Nelson nor Navratilova could be reached for comment.
Nelson is living in Aspen and has an unlisted telephone number. Relatives in Fort Worth declined to contact her.
Navratilova, who was served with notice of Nelson's action Wednesday in Hilton Head, S.C., was on her way to England, McCurley said.