Martina Navratilova, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, has been diagnosed with two forms of cancer, she revealed to Tennis.com in an article published Monday. The 66-year-old said doctors diagnosed her with Stage 1 throat cancer as well as an unrelated form of breast cancer.
“This double whammy is serious but still fixable, and I’m hoping for a favorable outcome,” she told the outlet. “It’s going to stink for a while, but I’ll fight with all [I’ve] got.”
Navratilova said she first noticed a sign of cancer during the Women’s Tennis Association finals in Fort Worth, Texas, last November. It was there she noticed a lymph node in her neck was enlarged, and when it didn’t reduce on its own, she got a biopsy.
She was diagnosed with Stage 1 throat cancer stemming from human papillomavirus, or HPV. HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that is thought to cause about 70% of oropharyngeal cancers in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Navratilova told Tennis.com that doctors issued a strong prognosis and that she will begin treatment this month.
This isn’t Navratilova’s first battle with cancer. She was previously diagnosed with a non-invasive form of breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, in February 2010 after a routine mammogram. This form of breast cancer, known as stage 0 breast cancer, makes up roughly 1 in 5 new breast cancer diagnoses, according to the American Cancer Society, which says that “nearly all women” with this diagnosis can be cured.
She underwent a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation following that diagnosis and announced later that year that she was “cancer-free.”
Navratilova has won more singles tournaments, doubles events and matches than any male or female tennis player since the Open Era began in 1968, according to the International Tennis Hall of Fame, which said she “bulldozed and mowed down opponents in historical proportions.”
Born in Czechoslovakia, she became a U.S. citizen in 1981, and has been a major title holder since 1975, when she won in doubles at the French Open. She has been named the Women’s Tennis Association’s “Tour Player of the Year” seven times, and has been ranked by several news and sports organizations as one of the best athletes of specific years and of the century.