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Martina Navratilova says she's doing 'OK' after cancer diagnosis

The tennis great spoke at the Italian Open on Sunday after receiving the “Racchetta d’Oro” award for her contributions to the sport.

ROME, Italy — Martina Navratilova is doing “OK” after being diagnosed with throat cancer and breast cancer.

“I’ve gone through a very difficult year but now I’m OK,” the 18-time Grand Slam singles champion and member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame said at the Italian Open on Sunday after receiving the “Racchetta d’Oro” (Golden Racket) award for her contributions to the sport.

The 66-year-old Navratilova said in January that her prognosis was good and that she was going to start treatment that month. She said then that she noticed an enlarged lymph node in her neck while attending the season-ending WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas, in November, and a biopsy showed early stage throat cancer.

While Navratilova was undergoing tests on her throat, she said, the unrelated, early stage breast cancer was discovered.

Navratilova returned to her work as a TV analyst at Tennis Channel in March, when in an interview with TalkTV’s Piers Morgan, she said she was told by doctors that, “as far as they know, I’m cancer-free,” and she should be “good to go” after some additional radiation treatment.

MORE: Martina Navratilova says doctors told her she is cancer-free

Navratilova made her acceptance speech in Italian to the Campo Centrale crowd.

“Tennis gave me a surprising life for which I am very grateful,” she said. “I always tried to give something back when I played, and also in retirement.”

Credit: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino
Martina Navratilova after receiving the Racchetta d'Oro (Golden Racket) award at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, May 21, 2023.

Navratilova was a four-time runner-up in singles at the Foro Italico and a three-time champion in doubles — with her last Rome title coming in 2003 with partner Svetlana Kuznetsova at the age of 46.

She won 59 Grand Slam titles overall, including 31 in women’s doubles and 10 in mixed doubles. The last was a mixed doubles championship with Bob Bryan at the 2006 U.S. Open, a month shy of her 50th birthday.

Navratilova originally retired in 1994, after a record 167 singles titles and 331 weeks at No. 1 in the WTA rankings. She returned to the tour to play doubles in 2000 and occasionally competed in singles, too.

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