Tennis world rallies behind Martina Navratilova after shock diagnosis

Popular tennis commentator Martina Navratilova will miss the Australian Open after requiring treatment for throat and breast cancer.

Martina Navratilova speaks at a press conference at the ATP Finals.
Martina Navratilova has been diagnosed with throat and breast cancer, but is expected to make a full recovery. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

High profile tennis commentator and grand slam champion Martina Navratilova has announced she will have to miss the upcoming Australian Open, after being diagnosed with breast and throat cancer. The 66-year-old will begin treatment as soon as possible as support flooded in from the tennis community.

The naturalised American has already seen off one bout of breast cancer, back in 2010, and was cleared roughly six months later. Navratilova said she was hoping for a 'favourable outcome' after receiving her diagnosis.

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It was during the WTA Finals in Texas last November that the 66-year-old first noticed an issue, noticing an enlarged lymph node in her neck that would not reduce in size. A biopsy was performed a short time later confirming a throat cancer diagnosis, with tests run at the time also uncovering a lump in her breast.

Fortunately for Navratilova, a winner of 19 grand slam titles, she said both diagnoses were treatable. Nevertheless, she said she was appreciative of the support she had received since the unfortunate discovery.

“The double whammy is serious, but fixable, and I’m hoping for a favourable outcome,” she said. “It’s going to stink for a while, but I’ll fight with all I have got.”

Navratilova's agent, Mary Greenham, told NPR that the tennis great's diagnosis was of HPV (human papillomavirus), a well-understood form of cancer which responds well to treatment. While Navratilova will not regularly feature on commentary, she is expected to make a handful of remote appearances.

“The prognosis is good and Martina will start her treatment this month,” Greenham said. “Both these cancers are in their early stages with great outcomes.”

On social media, there was an outpouring of support for Navratilova after she made her diagnosis public. Boasting a combined 59 grand slam titles in singles and doubles, a record that stands to this day, fans were hopeful the tennis icon would have a swift recovery.

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Optimistic prognosis for Martina Navratilova after shock cancer news

This isn't Navratilova's first bout with cancer. In Feb. 2010 she was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, a non-invasive form of breast cancer. She had a lumpectomy a month later and underwent six weeks of radiation.

Six months after her initial diagnosis, Navratilova was declared cancer free. No additional info was released about the new breast cancer diagnosis, so it's not known if it's a recurrence of the 2010 cancer.

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. Navratilova was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2000. She has worked as a TV analyst in recent years.

Martina Navratilova smiles during a presentation.
Fans have thrown their support behind Martina Navratilova, after she revealed she'd been diagnosed with two types of cancer late last year. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images for WTA)

Meanwhile, nearly one year on from the famous victory at Melbourne Park, Ash Barty says she has absolutely no regrets about her decision to walk away from the sport she loves. Speaking to the New York Times, the 26-year-old said she's been 'surprised' about how comfortable and content she is in retirement.

“To be honest, I think what has surprised me most is how comfortable I’ve been,” she said. “I think there was probably a normal fear or uncertainty in not knowing what my life would look like after tennis after being so focused.

“I was a bit unsure how I would deal with that because I am a person who likes to be organised. There was probably a little bit of fear in that, but overall, that hasn’t been an issue, a concern or a worry.

“What’s been surprising in a good way is that I’ve slipped quite seamlessly into this life that’s just like everyone else. Which is kind of always what I wanted.”

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