Martina Navratilova, the most successful player in Wimbledon history, has announced that she has two forms of cancer.
The 66-year-old has been diagnosed with stage-one throat cancer and breast cancer following her discovery of an enlarged lymph node in November.
“This double whammy is serious but still fixable,” Navratilova said. “I’m hoping for a favourable outcome. It’s going to stink for a while but I’ll fight with all I have got.”
A spokeswoman for Navratilova added that both cancers had been discovered at an early stage and should have “great outcomes”.
Navratilova was previously diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer – ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS – in 2010 but was given the all-clear following radiation treatment and surgery to remove the cancerous cells.
She will not now travel to Melbourne for the start of the Australian Open on Jan 16 but may still perform television punditry duties for the Tennis Channel via a remote video link from her Florida home.
Navratilova, who won the Wimbledon singles title a record nine times between 1978 and 1990, will begin treatment this month and has remained active on social media over recent weeks.
‘Your life can change in a nanosecond’
After receiving her previous cancer diagnosis in 2010, Navratoliva spoke about the importance of remaining positive. “I was as healthy as you can get and didn’t really have to worry about anything,” she said. “I got the diagnosis. After that everything shifts. You realise your life can change in a nanosecond.
“I’m always very good at dealing with reality and getting on with it. Deal with now and don’t worry about too many possibilities.”
On Sunday, she posted a new year’s message on Twitter to her 426,000 followers. “Happy New Year my peeps:), it’s been quite a ride!!!” she said. “Here is to a healthy, happy and fair New Year.”
Born in Prague in 1956 before becoming an American citizen in 1981, Navratilova won 59 grand-slam championships across singles and doubles and is one of only three players in tennis history to have won every available singles and doubles grand-slam title.
Her career spanned from 1974 until 2006, but she missed out on being part of Centre Court’s centenary celebrations in July after testing positive for Covid-19 on the same day as the parade of champions.
That allowed Roger Federer, with his eight Wimbledon singles’ titles, to take top billing on the day. Helen Mills is the only other eight-times champion but Navratilova still stands alone with her nine titles.
A statement was released on Monday to announce Navratilova’s cancer diagnosis. “Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with stage one throat cancer,” says the 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 [in early November]. 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.”