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Julia Lemigova, Martina Navratilova are early standouts in Real Housewives of Miami reboot
The first two episodes dropped on Peacock this week, and feature the 59-time Grand Slam champion as part of the franchise's first same-sex couple.
Published Dec 17, 2021
Life is like tennis: you can win at singles but doubles is always more fun…
And just like that, my two favorite sports—tennis and The Real Housewives…—combined with Julia Lemigova’s Real Housewives of Miami debut.
Wife of Martina Navratilova, Lemigova is the first Housewife to join a franchise as part of a same sex couple, having married the 59-time Grand Slam champion in 2014—a year after Real Housewives of Miami first went on hiatus following its third season.
RHOM announced its long-awaited return in 2020 and the first two episodes dropped this week on Peacock, NBC’s premier streaming service. Lemigova, a former model and 1990 Miss USSR, was announced as part of the cast earlier this fall, and first appears about 30 minutes into the super-sized premiere for a Hot Girl Summer-themed cast party.
Flanked by fiery and more familiar cast members like Alexia Echevarria, Marysol Patton and Larsa Pippen, I wondered how the more understated Lemigova would fit in. I was immediately put at ease when she arrives at Pippen's home alongside Adriana de Moura, breakout star of the franchise’s initial run and singer of the show’s theme song.
“We’re like Thelma and Louise,” quips catchphrase machine De Moura.
A hurricane of charisma, De Moura is a decidedly formidable ally to have on a show like this; of further note, the polyglot art dealer was cast in the reboot as a “Friend of…” to Lemigova’s full-time cast member, typically a nod to which of the women have the most compelling storylines.
And Lemigova’s begins in as far flung a fashion from traditional Housewivian excess as one can imagine: the camera smash cuts to the former beauty queen milking a goat on the Broward farm she shares with Navratilova.
“I never met a soulmate until I met Martina,” Lemigova admits in her confessional as Navratilova makes her maiden reality TV appearance.
The couple later tour their second home—a newly-rebuilt Miami Beach estate—while Lemigova describes first meeting Navratilova in 2000 while working in Paris as a model.
“I did this Russian James Bond number, and gave her this look across the bar that said, ‘You have to come and talk to me,’” she giggles. “She received the message and came over to introduce herself.”
Eight years after what ended up being a near-miss, the two ultimately paired up thanks to a second chance encounter at Roland Garros.
“We had a breakfast the next day, and the next day, and the third day, and then she moved in.”
Experienced in front of the camera, Navratilova is quick to note a media room would be “too small” for the trophies Lemigova proposes to place on the shelves and laughingly scolds her spouse for not bringing a requested cappuccino. Though we’re yet to see the nine-time Wimbledon champion in a famous Housewives confessional, there is reason to hope one may be yet to come—particularly after the second episode when Lemigova and de Moura set up an exhibition of Navratilova’s prolific paintings.
“My wife is the most talented artist,” Lemigova brags. “She creates canvasses with tennis balls!”
Previews for the third episode continue fleshing out Lemigova’s friendship with de Moura and put Navratilova’s exhibition as center stage for drama and confrontation, all of which indicate Lemigova is more than able to hold her own on a show that is as much Survivor as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.
Indeed, if the goal of each Housewives season is to nab a Super Bowl-style reunion seat next to executive producer Andy Cohen, Lemigova is likely to secure a safe middle seat, above the fray but enough of an anchor to book her spot for Season 5.
The Real Housewives of Miami releases new episodes on Peacock every Thursday.