Martina Navratilova diagnosed with early-stage throat and breast cancers.
Former world No 1 will start treatment this month
‘It’s going to stink for a while but I will fight with all I have got’
Martina Navratilova said she will “fight with all I have got” after being diagnosed with throat and breast cancers.
The 66-year-old, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, previously underwent treatment for early-stage breast cancer in 2010 and had been cancer-free since.
She announced the discovery of the new cancers – unrelated to each other – on Monday.
“This double whammy is serious but still fixable, and I’m hoping for a favourable outcome,” she said. “It’s going to stink for a while but I will fight with all I have got.”
Navratilova had been due to travel to Melbourne for the forthcoming Australian Open to work as a TV pundit.
That trip has been cancelled, said her representative, who added that the former world No 1 hoped to be able to contribute to the Tennis Channel’s coverage remotely.
“Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with stage one throat cancer,” read a statement.
“The prognosis is good and Martina will start her treatment this month.
“The cancer type is HPV and this particular type responds really well to treatment. Martina noticed an enlarged lymph node in her neck during the WTA finals in Fort Worth. When it didn’t go down, a biopsy was performed, the results came back as stage one throat cancer.
“At the same time as Martina was undergoing the tests for the throat, a suspicious form was found in her breast, which was subsequently diagnosed as cancer, completely unrelated to the throat cancer.
“Both these cancers are in their early stages with great outcomes. Martina won’t be covering the Australian Open for Tennis Channel from their studio but hopes to be able to join in from time to time by Zoom.”
During a career that spanned from 1973 to 2006, with a hiatus between 1996 and 2000, Navratilova became the most successful female player in the Open era.
Her 59 grand-slam titles (including 18 singles titles and 41 doubles and mixed doubles trophies) remains a record, as does her nine Wimbledon singles championships. In all she won 167 singles and 177 doubles titles.
In 1981 the then 18-year-old Navratilova defected to the United States from communist Czechoslovakia, though in 2008 she regained her Czech citizenship. Later in the same year, she was outed by a New York newspaper.
Since her retirement from the sport she has become an enthusiastic activist on a range of topics from human rights to environmental issues, and has been a regular and outspoken critic of Donald Trump. In 2019 Navratilova fell foul of Wimbledon officials when wearing a baseball cap bearing the legend “impeach” at the All England Club. Political messages are banned at Wimbledon.
One of the first openly gay players, at the Australian Open in 2020 she took to the court to campaign for the renaming of the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne – Court, Australia’s greatest woman player, is opposed to same-sex marriage. Navratilova has also opposed the participation of trans women in women’s sport, presenting a BBC documentary on the topic in 2019.