Navratilova will play her first singles match in almost eight years Tuesday against Tatiana Panova at this Wimbledon warmup. She is competing in doubles with Natasha Zvereva.
The winner of 167 singles and 166 doubles titles, the 45-year-old Navratilova asked for a wild card into the event in which she is an 11-time champion. It was granted when organizers failed to entice Jennifer Capriati or Monica Seles.
"Playing here at Eastbourne is like coming home and it just feels like the most natural place for me," said Navratilova, whose last singles match was a loss to Gabriela Sabatini in the first round of the WTA Championships in 1994. "But this is definitely a one-off. It's not a comeback."
The nine-time Wimbledon champion was dared to enter the event by her trainer, Giselle Girado.
The American reached the semifinals of the doubles event here last year with Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. Navratilova and Zvereva claimed the doubles title at the Madrid Open last month, making her the oldest woman ever to win a WTA event.
Yugoslavia's Jelena Dokic is the top seed at this event, which offers a first prize of $93,000. Dokic, who received a first-round bye, won her second title of the year and her first career grasscourt crown Sunday at Birmingham.