Tennis great Navratilova vows to fight double cancer diagnosis

The 18-time Grand Slam singles champion says she is hoping for a positive outcome after a throat and breast cancer diagnosis.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova
'It’s going to stink for a while but I'll fight with all I have got,' says Martina Navratilova, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, of her new cancer diagnosis [File: Tim Ireland/AP Photo]

Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with throat and breast cancer, a “double whammy” that the tennis great says she plans to battle with all her might.

In a statement released by her representative on Monday, the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion and member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame said her prognosis is good and she will start treatment this month.

“This double whammy is serious but still fixable, and I’m hoping for a favorable outcome,” said the 66-year-old Navratilova, considered to be one the greatest tennis players of all time.

“It’s going to stink for a while but I’ll fight with all I have got,” she said.

The cancer was first discovered in early November during the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) finals when Navratilova noticed a swelling in her neck that did not go down, said her representative, Mary Greenham.

“When it didn’t go down, a biopsy was performed, the results came back as stage one throat cancer,” Greenham said.

“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 of these cancers are in their early stages with great outcomes.”

Martina Navratilova plays during a match in 1977
Martina Navratilova during a match in 1977 [File: Richard Sheinwald/AP Photo]

It is not the first time the Czech-American tennis star has been diagnosed with cancer – in 2010 she had breast cancer but was assessed as being clear six months later.

As news of her new diagnosis broke on Monday, some politicians, athletes, and others sent their well-wishes to Navratilova on a successful recovery.

“[Navratilova] is as brave as she is strong,” another tennis trailblazer, Billie Jean King, wrote on Twitter. “She has fought this battle before, and she is in our thoughts and prayers.”

Navratilova’s powerful serve and agility at the net made her the dominant payer of her era as she picked up a total of 59 Major titles – 31 doubles and 10 mixed doubles, in addition to her 18 singles titles.

Her record at Wimbledon is unparalleled, her nine singles titles more than anyone else; Roger Federer won eight men’s titles while Serena Williams won the women’s title seven times.

Navratilova originally retired in 1994, after a record 167 singles titles and 331 weeks at number one in the WTA rankings, but returned to the tour to play doubles in 2000 and occasionally competed in singles, too.

Navratilova, who came out as gay in the 1980s and is an ardent defender of LGBTQ rights, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000 and has worked as a TV analyst in recent years.

On Monday, Greenham said that Navratilova would not travel to Melbourne for the January 16-29 Australian Open but hoped to contribute to the broadcasts remotely.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies