The nine-time champion was absent from a parade of champions, and in a series of posts on social media she explained why she had to sit it out.
Past winners were introduced to the main show court's middle Sunday crowd, with the one-time champions going first, all the way through to eight-time Wimbledon king Roger Federer.
Navratilova would have come out last of all, as the most successful singles player in Wimbledon history, but she was unable to take part. Including doubles, Navratilova won 20 slam titles at Wimbledon.
"Unfortunately I will miss it as I just tested positive this morning," she wrote on Twitter shortly before the ceremony. "Am so bummed!!!! I am gutted I can't be there."
Confirming she had the coronavirus, Navratilova wrote: "Yup, got it here for sure… oh well. So wanted to be on that court with so many champions of our sport."
Asked how she was feeling, the 65- ear-old Czech-born American added: "Not too bad so far- wouldn't want to play tennis but ok… fingers crossed."
A host of greats of the game delighted the crowd, with stars of the women's tour including Navratilova's former great rivals Chris Evert and Billie Jean King, along with Margaret Court and Venus Williams, while Federer was joined by a field of fellow men's superstars that included Rod Laver, Novak Djokovic, Stefan Edberg, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
Three-time former champion Boris Becker was another notable absentee, after the German was jailed in April for offences relating to his 2017 bankruptcy. Seven-time winner Serena Williams also missed the event, after her first-round defeat.
Navratilova has been working at Wimbledon during the championships, notably appearing as a member of the BBC broadcast team.