Tennis great Martina Navratilova has announced she is "cancer-free" and described how the support of her former rival Chris Evert helped her through her diagnosis.
Navratilova, 66, first revealed she had stage one throat and breast cancer in January, after noticing an enlarged lymph node in her neck at the WTA finals in Texas. She feared she might not see another Christmas but is now in remission and said she should be "good to go".
Speaking in an interview with Piers Morgan on TalkTV, Czech-American Navratilova credited her "game mode" mindset with helping her through the treatment, as well as the supportive messages from a host of tennis stars, including Billie Jean King, Sue Barker and Evert.
“You have to be in game mode and so that’s where having been a champion athlete comes in pretty handy," Navratilova said. "I knew it was going to be hard but I didn’t realise it was going to be as hard as it really was. I lost 15 lbs, not because I wanted to but because I just couldn’t get enough food in my body. The radiation, the proton therapy affects your throat and the mouth."
Navratilova is widely regarded as tennis's most successful champion, winning a record 59 grand slam titles across singles and doubles. Evert, who is also an 18-time major singles champion, was her greatest rival and faced Navratilova on the court 80 times from 1973 to 1988.
The 68-year-old had ovarian cancer last year but announced she was in remission in January, and Navratilova said her and Evert's tennis careers helped them during their similar health struggles. "Following in Chris Evert’s footsteps who went through cancer a year before, we ended up being treated in the same place in New York…You can’t just make it up," Navratilova said. "This is the kind of competition we don’t really want. But I must say Chris has been just a star. She has supported me so much through this, as I supported her a year ago, but little did I know that it was going to be reciprocated.
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