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Julia Lemigova Reveals the RHOM Moment That Made Wife Martina Navratilova "Very Upset and Emotional"
The RHOM cast member opens up about putting her marriage in the spotlight and what her daughters really think of the show.
Julia Lemigova had never seen a second of The Real Housewives of Miami prior to joining the cast for Season 4. So, in an effort to get an idea of what exactly she was signing up for, Julia approached the series like any 21st century TV watcher would: She binge-watched the first three seasons of RHOM.
As Julia watched a season a day, her wife, Martina Navratilova, would occasionally pop in to see what this show was all about as well. "Martina would be, like, walking into the room and bringing me lunch or dinner. And she was like, 'Oh, you're still watching?' 'Uh huh,'" Julia recalled during an exclusive interview with Bravo Insider in late February. "And she would sit with me, watch a little bit, go away."
Seeing those earlier seasons actually cemented Julia's decision to join the show, along with the encouragement of longtime friend and RHOM OG Adriana de Moura. "I called back Adriana, and I was even more sure of myself that I want to do it. I had no idea why I want to do it, but it was just, you know, I was in this group, and full of excitement and emotions after watching it," Julia said. "And I thought we [Adriana and I] could do something with this dynamic duo as we are. I thought we could do something even more crazy, even more different, and just enjoy the ride."
Martina has, of course, also been along for the ride as Julia shares her life with viewers in each episode of RHOM. Though she and Martina know what it's like to be in the spotlight, Julia said that this experience has "absolutely" shown the world a different side to the couple. "I'm happy to share real things with people and show them highlights on how we live: our family, our kids, our multiple animals family," Julia shared.
It's that last part about Julia and Martina's menagerie of farm animals we see as part of the couple's home life on RHOM that seems to have particularly made an impact on viewers. Julia recalled two recent occasions where fans came up to her in Miami and said that she reminded them of Lisa Douglas, Eva Gabor's character in Green Acres. "It makes me smile that people connect with my crazy farm life and glam life and they relate to this, and I'm happy to share it with them if it can help somebody, if it can entertain somebody, you know, I'm game. And I'm all for it," Julia said. "So yeah, we have quite an unusual farm life, so why not share it with some people who may get inspired and take something home with them from it? You know? So that makes me happy."
Though this may not be what people expected to see from the former model and her tennis legend wife, Julia said, "It's, like, real life. That's what makes the show authentic."
And sometimes, RHOM gets very real, very quickly, as Julia experienced when she became violently ill during the girls' trip to the Hamptons this season, a moment that Martina found difficult to watch. "She was very upset and emotional when she watched me being sick in the Hamptons because, you know, she hasn't seen it. She wasn't there, and then she's watching it on TV for the first time. So I was scared watching her watching me being sick," Julia said. "That was my [most] nervous moment, but it was fine. I told her, 'Darling, I was OK.' I mean, I was OK then, kind of. I survived, and I'm OK now. So I was comforting her, and that was my biggest nervous point watching this show with her."
Although Julia caught Martina "shaking her head sometimes" as they watched all of the RHOM Season 4 episodes together, she was also "laughing quite a few times" at everything unfolding on the screen before her. "Overall, we just watched the last episode together, the finale, which it really highlighted in reality how we live, and I was very happy with this; so was Martina," Julia shared. "So we just have a smile on our faces and just cannot wait to see what people will say when they watch it."
Though Martina has been on board with Julia's RHOM journey from the beginning, their daughters, Victoria, 20, and Emma, 16, were a little more hesitant about their mom becoming a Housewife. "In the beginning, they were a little bit kind of [resistant] to it. They did not really want to be a part of it because they would say, 'Oh mom, why? And what are our friends gonna say?' And we had a conversation, and I explained to them it's how you are and how you present yourself. A lot of good things would come out of it because when you tell your truth and then when you're not faking things, people see it. And if there is one person you can never lie to, it's a camera," Julia said. "You're true to yourself, camera will pick it up. You lie, camera will pick it up, and then the audience will pick it up. So I said to the girls, 'Listen, trust me. Let's do it. Trust me. Follow me.'"
Julia also said she assured her daughters that she would "behave so that they're not going to be embarrassed of me." And with that, Victoria and Emma gave their blessing for the show. "And now it's so cute because they're calling me. And they were like, 'Oh, Mom, we liked it. We watched this. That was cute.' Or, like, 'Something you did with the animals, that was nice.' And then they would call and say, 'Oh, this and this girl, you know, said something about you. Huh, that was not very nice,'" Julia said. "So they [are] actually really engaging, and they're not telling me that they're watching, but they're watching. And it's just, I'm so happy. I engaged them and their friends commenting on it and being so sweet. So yeah, my family totally supports me in this adventure."
During an emotional moment with Adriana this season of RHOM, Julia confided in her friend as she prepared for Victoria leaving to study abroad in Germany and Emma going off to spend a year with her dad in Paris. "It's, like, really hard to find how to lure them back without them saying, 'Oh Mom, you're clinging, and, you know, stop.' So I'm, like, trying to bribe them with food, or we say, 'Oh, you know, this great place in Miami opened up,'" Julia told Bravo Insider. "I never tell them that I'm, like, sitting crying in my pillow like, 'God, I hate it. When are you coming home?'"
Fortunately, Julia was getting ready for Victoria to be back in Miami for a seven-day vacation at the time of her interview with Bravo Insider. Emma will also be returning home for her next school break, as well as this summer. "So I have this countdown calendar for both of them, and [I'm] counting the days," Julia said, adding that she and her daughters "speak every day." "You know, FaceTime or just call, we have to have this connection. I mean, I have to have this connection with them. And they were a little bit in the beginning like, 'Oh, Mom. You're like the mama chicken, you know, like a perching mom,' but now they accepted it. So we speak every day, even tiny little messages because it's so important."
It's RHOM moments like Julia's tears over becoming an empty nester that make her and all the Miami Housewives still incredibly relatable amid all of the more fabulous aspects of their lives. In fact, even with a star-studded guest list (which included the likes of Lynda Carter, Brooke Shields, Karolina Kurkova, Rachel Hunter, and Chris Evert) at her and Martina's wedding reception on Valentine's Day in 2015, Julia's most cherished memories from that day are of her daughters.
"I think it's when my daughter, Victoria, took a microphone and surprised me singing an Elton John song, which she's normally very shy and she doesn't like to sing in public. And my little Emma gave her, like, most cutest, amazing speech. She said what she thought of Martina and I," Julia recalled. "That was so special."
It's this intersection of glamour and more intimate moments of her life that Julia has particularly enjoyed sharing with fans this season of RHOM, in addition to her love for Martina and their daughters. "I think our marriage is just like any other happy marriage. We have each other. We have our life. We have a family. There's no difference between [a] gay marriage or [a] straight couple marriage. Marriage is a marriage," she said. "Our life may be the only way a little bit more different is because we have both sides of this farm [life] and the glam life. You know, usually people have maybe one type of life. But life is too short, and I love it so much."
Catch Part 2 of the RHOM Season 4 reunion streaming on Peacock on Thursday, March 10. Seasons 1 through 4 of RHOM are streaming now on Peacock.