Martina Navratilova Says She Has Throat and Breast Cancer
Martina Navratilova, one of the most dominant players in tennis history, said this week that she had been diagnosed with throat cancer as well as a recurrence of breast cancer, a “double whammy” that she hoped to overcome through treatment.
Navratilova, 66, said in a statement on her website that she planned to begin treatment this month for Stage 1 throat cancer, which had been discovered after a biopsy on an enlarged lymph node in her neck.
Navratilova said she had noticed the enlarged node last fall during the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, where she and Chris Evert were honored.
“The prognosis is good,” Navratilova said in the statement, adding: “The cancer type is HPV and this particular type responds really well to treatment.”
HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a leading cause of throat cancer, and it is sexually transmitted.
It is believed to cause about 70 percent of oropharyngeal cancers — tumors of the back of the throat, the base of the tongue and the tonsils, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The C.D.C. said there were about 3,500 new cases of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers diagnosed in women and 16,200 in men every year in the United States.
Navratilova said in the statement that as she was undergoing tests on her throat, a “suspicious form” was found in her breast, which was determined to be early-stage cancer, completely unrelated to the throat cancer.
Navratilova was also found to have noninvasive breast cancer in 2010 and underwent a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation treatment.
In an article published on Tennis.com on Monday, she said: “This double whammy is serious but still fixable, and I’m hoping for a favorable outcome.”
“It’s going to stink for a while,” she added, vowing to fight on.
Navratilova said on her website that she would not cover the Australian Open for the Tennis Channel later this month, but hoped to join the network “from time to time” via Zoom.
Navratilova, who played her first Wimbledon as a 16-year-old in 1973 and won 18 Grand Slam singles championships, drew an outpouring of support with the disclosure that she was once again confronting cancer.
Among those offering her well wishes were Evert, a onetime rival and also an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion, who disclosed in January 2022 that she had an early form of ovarian cancer.
Evert, who underwent chemotherapy, announced in May that she was cancer free, with a 90 to 95 percent chance it would never return.
“Thinking of @Martina today and supporting her journey, like she did mine, with love and prayers,” Evert, 68, wrote on Twitter. “This is a woman who takes on challenges with strength and resilience…You got this, Martina!”
The tennis great Billie Jean King called Navratilova “as brave as she is strong.”
“She has fought this battle before, and she is in our thoughts and prayers,” she wrote on Twitter.
Navratilova, an outspoken and wide-ranging commentator on social media, expressed gratitude for the support.
“Needless to say my phone and twitter are both blowing up so I will say again- thank you all for your support and I am not done yet:),” she wrote on Twitter. “Xoxoxo.”