From pageants to modeling to beauty business extraordinaire, Julia Lemigova has acquired quite the resume. Her wife is considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Martina Navratilova has made history winning an unprecedented 59 Grand Slam titles. Moreover, Martina’s winnings mark the Open Era record for the most Grand Slam titles won by a single player.
Today, the power couple are turning heads as the first LGBTQ couple in the history of the Real Housewives franchise. Julia Lemigova stars as one of the Real Housewives of Miami on Peacock, with her tennis pro wife Martina filming with her heavily throughout the show, even getting involved in drama as depicted when Julia gave co-star Adriana de Moura a foot massage which caused a bit of controversy. Viewers also get an inside look into Martina’s astounding work as an artist when the tennis legend hosts an art show curated by co-star Adriana. Even the car Julia drives is splattered with Martina’s artwork.”
Julia Lemigova, 49, has lived a life made for television. The daughter of a Red Army colonel, Lemigova was crowned Miss USSR 1990 and went on to represent the Soviet Union at the Miss Universe 1991 pageant, where she also placed second runner-up. After being crowned Miss USSR 1900, Lemigova moved to Western Europe and ultimately established herself in Paris. While in Paris, Lemigova launched Joiya Spa in 2013 and an organic skincare line, Russie Blanche, in 2009.
Despite a robust career, Lemigova’s personal life has been filled with trauma. In 1997, Lemigova lost her five-and-a-half-month-old son, Maximilien, due to shaken baby syndrome while in the care of a nanny who immediately fled thereafter. Lemigova has two daughters, Victoria (21) and Emma (14) from two prior relationships before she began dating Martina Navratilova in 2008. The two wed in 2014.
Congratulations on becoming the first LGBT housewife in the history of Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise!
Julia Lemigova: Thank you, it means so much to me, and more and more each day I realize how big of an opportunity this is. Filming the show has been an amazing experience thus far and I am 100-percent devoted to doing my best to show the world how important it is to be accepting of love regardless of orientation and/or gender.
The franchise was established in 2006 yet it took late 2021 for a lesbian housewife to finally grace our screens.
JL: It is about time! I just want to scream at this point. I am so grateful to Peacock and the entire Real Housewives of Miami team for allowing me the opportunity to represent the LGBTQ community. I am doing my best to shine a light on our family, how we live and to illustrate we function just as normally as every other couple. I feel this is vital for people to see and understand especially those who are still not fully accepting due to preconceived notions.
You are married to world renowned tennis legend, Martina Navratilova. Were you nervous to showcase your marriage and personal life to the world?
JL: Not necessarily because I have grown accustomed to sports life. However, Martina and I are quite private people. We were never on any reality television shows in the past. This specific opportunity came to us at the right time. I was ready for it and Martina was incredibly supportive of my decision. Together we dove into this new world and are thrilled to be a part of such a strong cast.
Did you watch the show prior to joining or was this a completely new experience?
JL: It was a completely new experience! My best friend, Adriana de Moura, called me one morning and invited me to be her friend on the show. It was funny because our friendship is a reality television show in and of itself. It is fun, vibrant, and dynamic. Thus, when Adriana asked me to join, I said yes. Then, I binge watched a season each day that week.
Did you encounter any difficult moments such as feuds with your fellow cast members?
JL: I am not a person who tends to fight or create drama. It’s ironic though, Martina and Adriana both poke fun at me because they think I avoid drama. While I may avoid it at times, I am also not afraid of it either. When it is time for me to say my peace, I speak up. When it is time for me to listen, I am quiet. I discovered things about myself that I was not even aware of by filming this show.
You mentioned Martina is a very private person. How did she navigate the constant filming, social media attention and the press? How did she handle it?
JL: Martina is very supportive of me. She knows how much this opportunity means to me. Having been a part of it as well, Martina realized how much fun we have while filming, but also that there is way more depth particularly to this Miami series. This is what makes the series so special — there are many deep and multiple LGBT topics addressed over the course of the season. If I can affect even one person, that is the best reward. There is a lot more beyond the glamour with this series.
How was it filming with your immediate family? Did it test your relationships or was it an easy process?
JL: It was easy because the process did not feel intrusive. Everyone in the production crew was amazing. It felt natural and the crew made everyone feel safe. That alone was great because I recall from my modeling career that not every filming occasion was easy. I adore every person who works behind the scenes. Of course, all my cast mates were enjoyable. I have made new friends as well as established stronger relationships with women I knew in the past.
Who are you closest to from the show?
JL: Obviously my dear long-term friend Adriana who I’ve known for nearly nine years since I moved to Miami. We have been close friends from the very beginning. During filming I also grew close with Dr. Nicole Martin and Guerdy Abraira. Truly, I am on good terms with all the ladies.
How long have you lived in Miami?
JL: We moved to Miami in December 2012 just before Christmas.
Having worked as a model and traveled the world, how does Miami compare to places you previously lived?
JL: I was born in Moscow. I was raised most of my adult life in Paris. I love Europe; Europe will always be a huge part of me because it made me who I am. However, I felt immediate freedom from the second I stepped onto United States soil. I just wanted to keep coming back. It was challenging for me to move here especially because same sex marriage was not legal at the time. Miami particularly made me feel welcome because it is such a melting pot that has allowed me to feel more comfortable being who I am. There is probably not one thing I can say I do not like about South Florida. I enjoy hidden luxury and Miami offers many different facets; you can jump from crazy glamor to the most down to earth environments.
I understand you operate a farm outside of Miami. What is the farm life like?
JL: It is another reason why I love this area. My childhood dream was always to live on and run a farm. I finally have an animal kingdom of my own. I consider it my retreat. I have exotic parrots, tortoises, goats, chickens, and even a donkey. Florida also offers an opportunity, which is not available in Europe, to grow a wide array of fruit trees. During the COVID-19 pandemic this was incredibly useful. We were able to practice social distancing while eating a self-sustainable farm to table diet. Everything is organic, I do not use any chemicals, and I am studying farming each day. From the fashion world to farming.
That is very admirable. Were you always into healthy living and the organic lifestyle?
JL: Always. When I was working as a model for many years traveling the world, learning new languages, observing different cultures, I was always attracted to organic living. I had an interest in not just learning but practicing this way of life. I would even travel miles and miles to different farms for food during my modeling days. Even my skincare line was organic.
What is next for you?
JL: I am literally taking baby steps, one step at a time, just concentrating on promoting the show and bringing more awareness to LGBT causes in relation to my role with Martina. There are no housewife business launches, but rather I am using my platform on the show to raise more awareness to LGBT topics.