Tennis great Martina Navratilova diagnosed with throat and breast cancer

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Tennis great Martina Navratilova diagnosed with throat and breast cancer
Tennis great Martina Navratilova diagnosed with throat and breast cancer

18-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with stage-one throat and breast cancer.

The 66-year-old, who won Wimbledon an incredible nine times, said she had been diagnosed with the two forms of cancers after finding a swollen lymph node in her neck in November.

She announced the news via The Times, and issued an emotional statement vowing to fight the cancer. "This double whammy is serious but still fixable," she 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 has added that "both these cancers are in early stage with great outcomes".

Tennis great Martina Navratilova diagnosed with throat and breast cancer rridqziqtqitinvMartina Navratilova has been diagnosed with throat and breast cancer (AFP/Getty Images)

The worrying news comes 13 years after the tennis icon was given the all-clear following radiation therapy for breast cancer.

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The Czech-born American, a winner of 59 singles and doubles Grand Slam titles, will no longer travel to this month's Australian Open in Melbourne - where she was due to work as a TV pundit. She is instead expected to make remote appearances from her home in Miami on the Tennis Channel broadcasts.

A statement from Navratilova's representative declared her prognosis as 'good'.

The statement read: "Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with stage one throat cancer. The prognosis is good and Martina will start her treatment this month.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova diagnosed with throat and breast cancerTennis icon Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with throat and breast cancer (BBC / Jonathan Ford)

"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.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova diagnosed with throat and breast cancerNavratilova has won Wimbledon a record nine times (Getty Images)

"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."

Navratilova announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2010 following a routine mammogram that showed she had ductal carcinoma in situ in her left breast.

She said that she felt helpless after the diagnosis, but decided to speak out to raise awareness for women suffering from similar health problems. Navratilova had the tumour surgically removed before she received radiation therapy.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova diagnosed with throat and breast cancerNavratilova dominated women's tennis for two decades (Mirrorpix)

Former world no.1 Navratilova dominated women's tennis in the 1970's and 1980's and is firmly established in the pantheon of the greatest players to ever grace the tennis court.

She became renowned for her aggressive serve and volley style and spent a staggering 332 weeks as the world's highest ranked women's player during her unprecedented period of dominance.

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And Navratilova is tied with Chris Evert for the third-most Grand Slam singles titles in the Open era, behind only Steffi Graff [22] and Serena Williams [23]. She is also one of only three players ever to have won titles in all four Grand Slams in the singles, doubles and mixed doubles formats.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova diagnosed with throat and breast cancerNavratilova has been married to wife Julia Lemigova since 2014 (Getty Images for Netflix)

Now a prominent voice in tennis, Navratilova was inducted into the sport's hall of fame in 2000 as a pioneer of the modern game.

And she was due to be recognised for her achievements both on and off the court at last summer's Wimbledon 100th anniversary ceremony at SW19, but was forced to pull out because of a positive Covid test.

Navratilova has also been a public campaigner for gay rights in her retirement and suffered abuse when she came out as a high-profile sportsperson in 1981.

She was one of the first openly celebrity gay celebrities to lobby for the approval and recognition of same-sex relationships in the 1980s.

Tennis great Martina Navratilova diagnosed with throat and breast cancerNavratilova was a hit on I'm A Celebrity in 2008 (ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Now a dual Czech-American citizen, she married long-term Russian partner Julia Lemigova, 50, in New York in December 2014.

As well as being an outspoken activist on gay rights, Navratilova has also been forthright in her views on the inclusion of transgender women in women's sports. She apologised in 2019 after her comments claiming trans sportspeople were cheating received widespread criticism.

Navratilova entered the reality world after hanging the racquet up professionally in 2006 and was a popular campmate in the hit ITV series ' I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!' in 2008.

She finished runner-up behind Joe Swash on the eighth season of the show based in the Australian jungle.

Ben Parsons

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