Martina Navratilova posted on Twitter this week that, after a full day of tests at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, she is now free of cancer.
It's my only regret, but I had to do it [defect to the USA]. I have always tried to represent my country in the best way, and I will continue to try. But you don't realise how it will turn out with other people around me. My sister suffered a lot, I won't even talk about my parents. I appreciate this medal so much. Martina Navratilova
“Thank you to all the doctors, nurses, proton and radiation magicians etc – what a relief,” she wrote.
The 66-year old revealed in January that she had been diagnosed with both throat cancer and breast cancer, and began treatment that same month, adding at the time that the illness was treatable.
The 18-time Grand Slam singles champion noticed an enlarged lymph node in her neck in November during the WTA Finals, and a biopsy revealed early stage throat cancer.
Navratilova has been recovering and receiving treatment and returned to her TV role at the Tennis Channel in March at the Miami Open.
It is not the first time that the Czech-born American has had to overcome a cancer diagnosis. In 2010, the former World No 1 had a noninvasive form of breast cancer, and underwent a lumpectomy.
Despite her challenging start to 2023, Navratilova has continued to provide analysis and insight into the ongoings on the WTA and ATP tours.
In addition, she earned another gong to add to her bursting trophy cabinet in May when the Federazione Italiana Tennis e Padel awarded her with the Golden Racket and, just last week, she was honoured by the Czech Republic Parliament with the President of the Senate silver medal for outstanding achievement and the courage to be herself.
In an unrivalled tennis career, Navratilova won multiple Grand Slams including 9 Wimbledon titles and 4 US Opens before she eventually retired in 1994 at the age of 38.
Shortly after she stepped back from professional tennis, the former Czechoslovakian, who received US citizenship in 1975, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
On returning to her homeland last week, she called it an honour, especially given her recent well documented battles cancer.
“When the email came from Mr. Vystrcil saying I would receive the silver medal, it was some time in February, when I had some health difficulties,” she said. “I said to myself, ‘Are they afraid I’ll die before they give it to me?’ ”
Born in Czechoslovakia, Navratilova was stripped of her citizenship when, at the age of 18, she fled her war-torn homeland and asked the United States for political asylum. She was granted temporary residence in 1975 and became a US citizen in 1981.
“It’s my only regret, but I had to do it,” she said about her defection to the USA while receiving the medal in Prague. “I have always tried to represent my country in the best way, and I will continue to try.
“But you don’t realise how it will turn out with other people around me. My sister suffered a lot, I won’t even talk about my parents. I appreciate this medal so much.”
On 9 January, 2008, Navratilova re-acquired her Czech citizenship, thus becoming a dual citizen as she did not renounce her US nationality.
The President of the Senate award was bestowed on Navratilova by Miloš Vystril, the President of the Senate (Upper House of the Parliament of the Czech Republic) and also the second-highest ranking officer of the Czech Republic after the President.
“I am happy for the medal and I accept it with humility,” Navratilova said. “I will try to continue to represent my homeland as best I can. That’s how I cry when, for example, our anthem is playing. I will try to continue to do the right things and hopefully it will turn out well. It is necessary to keep taking steps forward.”
Upper Chief Vystcil, who awarded Navratilova the silver medal, responded: “We lived in a cage, and you had the strength and courage to break that cage and fly out of it. You gained your freedom and became the best tennis player in the world.
“And you suffered and your family suffered. But you stuck to your guns. Sometimes, you have to suffer when you get your way. We should remember that.
“You have spoken openly about who you are, and with whom you are, and in doing so you have helped a large number of people with a similar fate.
“You have helped and are helping the weak and vulnerable, those who have less than you. You are brave and never give up. In life, just like on the tennis court.”
Navratilova’s news that she is free of cancer was met with well-wishes from the tennis family, including her fellow Tennis Channel commentators, and former players, including fellow cancer survivor Carla Suárez Navarro.