40-Year-Old Former Tennis Player Gets Overwhelmed With Emotions as Idol Martina Navratilova Receives Rare Honor at Italian Open 2023

Published 05/23/2023, 2:26 AM EDT

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If there is one player who has overcome incredibly testing times, both in her professional and personal life, it will be the legendary Martina Navratilova. From moving away from her country to keep her tennis dreams alive to fighting cancer, not once but twice, in her life, the 9-time Wimbledon champion has seen it all. She was recently honored with the Racchetta d’Oro (Golden Racket) at the Italian Open for her incredible achievements. As she stepped up to receive the award and give her thoughts, one particular fan of hers, a renowned tennis player herself, couldn’t contain her emotions. Tears kept rolling down her cheeks that stopped her from talking. Emotionally charged, she took pauses when the legendary Martina Navratilova received the prestigious award. The tears of former Slovakian tennis star Daniela Hantuchova deeply touched the audience as she reflected upon Martina’s pain.

Before the men’s singles Italian Open final began on Sunday, the Czech-American tennis legend received the ‘golden racket’ award. 18-time Grand Slam winner gave her presentation in Italian. As the Slovakian commentator was translating her words, she ended up translating her pain as well, through tears.

What made Daniela cry for Martina?

As the tennis legend received the Racchetta d’Oro” (Golden Racket), she narrated the ordeal she went through in the past one year. Doctors had diagnosed her with a throat and a breast cancer.

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“I’ve gone through a very difficult year, but now I’m OK,” Martina revealed.

Having battled two cancers at the same time, Martina gave her acceptance speech at the Italian Open final. The audience, who understood her greatness, appeared to feel her pain.

And how did all of this begin? As the 2022 WTA Finals she was attending came to an end, she discovered an enlarged lymph node in her neck. Tests revealed an early stage throat cancer. As she was undergoing treatment for the throat cancer, she got diagnosed with the breast cancer as well.

The tennis icon has a history with cancer beyond the two recent diagnoses. In 2010, Martina had the first encounter with the breast cancer after a tumor was discovered. It took surgery to remove the tumour. Treatment of her first cancer included radiation therapy.

Respect for her grandeur; tears for her pain

Anyone with even a slight tennis sense would be able to recognise the grandeur of the tennis star. But Daniela added some more context to the same.


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“And I just want to say from personal experience, coming from the same part of the world, what Martina has achieved in tennis I think has to be multiplied by 10 times,” former world No.5 said before she grew emotional.

She further opined on the attachment of Czech-American tennis star to the Italian courts. She added that Italian courts always generated a home like feeling for Martina even though she never won the tournament.

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Martina rubs her shoulders with Steffi Graf and Serena Williams on the number of weeks of staying at the top of the rankings. She originally hailed from Czechoslovakia. She applied for asylum in the USA and Czechoslovakia stripped off her citizenship. Later, the United States granted her citizenship.

There is no doubt about the fact that she is an inspiration even for the current generation of tennis stars. But her achievements on the tennis court don’t fade her toughness off the court. Her patience and her struggles are as inspirational as the  milestones she achieved during her sporting career.

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Junaid Ashraf is a Tennis Writer at EssentiallySports. After completing a couple of masters degrees in social sciences, he published three books in poetry, fiction and non fiction. Junaid worked as a lecturer and a creative writing expert for an MNC before breaking into the exciting world of sports journalism.
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Tony Thomas




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