Tennis legend Navratilova diagnosed with breast cancer

WASHINGTON: Tennis legend Martina Navratilova revealed Wednesday she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The 53-year-old, who won 18 Grand Slam titles including nine Wimbledon singles titles, said she cried after finding out she had the disease.

Navratilova, 53, said when she heard the diagnosis she felt she had suffered her "personal 9/11."

"I was devastated," she told ABC television''s "Good Morning America" on being diagnosed in February, when a routine mammogram revealed a cluster in her left breast.

She explained she had had a lumpectomy, that doctors had found the disease had not spread to her lymph nodes and that there was a "very small chance" of the cancer recurring.

"It is just in that one breast," Navratilova said.

"I''m OK and I''ll make a full recovery."

But she said that emotionally it had been a difficult time.

"I''m this healthy person, I''ve been healthy all my life, and all of a sudden I have cancer. Are you kidding me?" she said.

Navratilova told US magazine People: "It shocked me, really. I feel so in control of my life and my body, and then this comes, and it''s completely out of my hands."

According to the report, doctors say the former Wimbledon champion''s prognosis is excellent because the tumour was detected at an early stage.

Navratilova has already had the lump removed and will begin six weeks of radiation therapy in May.

"It was a total shock because I''ve been so healthy," she added. "I thought, ''I''m going to lose my boob and then my hair, and I don''t have that much. There''s a good chance it won''t come back''."

The former world number one said she had intended to keep the news quiet but changed her mind when she realised she could persuade other women to go for check ups.

"The sooner you catch it, the better," she said. "So get the bloody mammogram.

"I went four years between mammograms. I let it slide. Everyone gets busy, but don''t make excuses. I stay in shape and eat right, and it happened to me. Another year and I could have been in big trouble."

Born in Prague, Navratilova fled to the United States in 1975 at the height of the Cold War. She became a US citizen six years later but regained her Czech nationality two years ago, and has dual nationality.