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Tennis great Martina Navratilova fighting ‘double whammy’ cancer diagnosis

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova is battling two types of cancer. (Tim Ireland/AP)
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Tennis legend Martina Navratilova is battling throat and breast cancer, she told in a story published Monday.

“This double whammy is serious but still fixable, and I’m hoping for a favorable outcome,” Navratilova said. “It’s going to stink for a while, but I’ll fight with all [I have] got.”

The 18-time Grand Slam singles winner, who is 66, said doctors discovered the unrelated breast cancer when diagnosing her Stage 1 throat cancer. Navratilova previously underwent surgery and radiation treatment for breast cancer in 2010 and was later declared cancer-free. She will begin treatment this month for her latest bout with the disease.

“I was as healthy as you can get and didn’t really have to worry about anything,” Navratilova said in 2017 when discussing her earlier battle with cancer. “I got the diagnosis when I was in Aspen. After that, everything shifts. You realize your life can change in a nanosecond, so that ‘seize the day’ thing definitely applies.

“I’m always good about dealing with reality and getting on with it, not worrying about too many possibilities. Just what is now, let’s deal with it. That’s where tennis training comes in handy, you need to deal with the ball, the ball is right here. You don’t think about anything else. Being a top-level athlete, a pro athlete, you learn to be positive. So that came in very handy as a patient. Being a positive person helped a lot, and surround yourself with positive people as well.”

Navratilova has 59 Grand Slam titles across singles, doubles and mixed doubles, the most in the Open era, and was the top-ranked women’s singles player for 332 weeks, second behind the 377 of Steffi Graf. Navratilova’s rivalry with Chris Evert in the 1970s and ’80s defined women’s tennis as the two squared off 14 times in Grand Slam singles finals, with Navratilova winning 10 of them. Her career began in the mid-1970s and stretched into the 21st century, when she won her last Grand Slam title at the 2006 U.S. Open, pairing with Bob Bryan to take home the mixed doubles championship and becoming the oldest major champion.

After her retirement, Navratilova became a tennis broadcaster. Because of her diagnosis, she will not be in the Tennis Channel studio for this month’s Australian Open, but the network said it hopes she can join the broadcast via teleconference.