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Friday's Connector: Martina Navratilova

August 5th, 2010
12:53 AM ET

Martina Navratilova is known around the world for the epic battles she waged on tennis courts. She won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, a record 31 Grand Slam women's doubles titles and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. She advanced to the Wimbledon singles final 12 times, including nine consecutive years from 1982-1990.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/05/martina.art.gettyimages.jpg caption="Martina Navratilova is your Connector of the Day."]

But the toughest opponent she has ever faced has been off the court.

Navratilova had been busy and neglected to get her regular mammograms for the past few years. During January of this year, she made a routine doctor's appointment and that's when cancer was spotted. Navratilova underwent a lumpectomy in March - and completed six weeks of radiation in June.

The tennis great allowed a CNN camera team to be alongside her as she tried to balance her treatments with her demanding daily routine at the French Open. She underwent her treatments in the morning, commentated for the Tennis Channel during the day, and spent her evenings playing Legends tennis.

CNN has been granted rare access to one of the most recognized and successful female athletes in the world. Navratilova is sharing her story with the world, so she can inspire women to get their mammograms and take a more active role in their personal health.

CNN will air Martina: My Toughest Opponent on Saturday, Aug 7, at 5:30p in London, 6:30p CET. Viewers will get to see a side of Martina they've never seen before. They'll see her travelling to her treatments while attempting to keep up her busy schedule. You will meet her doctor, see where she's getting treated and meet the group of friends who are determined to see her through this chapter in her life.

Ahead of that, she's taking your questions as our Connector of the Day.

What do you want to ask Martina Navratilova?

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Jurgen R. Brul

    What is your opinion on the way Barack Hussein Obama’s Administration is Improving the Health, Safety and Well-being of ALL Americans?

    Jurgen R. Brul
    Paramaribo, Suriname

    August 5, 2010 at 11:02 am | Reply
  2. Cheryl

    We all know that the events in our lives, how we handle them, what we learn and how we grow, are part of what makes us who we are. Often the most profound self revelations come after years, or even decades of introspection. So it might be premature to ask this question, but is there anything you learned about yourself throughout this process that really surprised you?

    August 5, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  3. Jill Spronk

    Hi Martina,
    Like so many people, I have watched you playing tennis for years!
    We are very sorry to hear of your cancer battle. I'm sure your stamina will help you win this fight. My question is a personal one:

    do you ever think of God in relation to this present battle? Does He enter into this equation?

    All the very best,

    August 5, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  4. becki k

    what one thing that you have manged to do in your lifetime has given you the most satisfaction in doing whether it be tennis related or not?

    for example mine was the first time i learnt to play a song on the drums for the band i was in at the time.

    August 5, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Reply
  5. Sam Kahugu

    Hi Martina,

    small correction: Its not "Mount Kilimanjaro" but just "Kilimanjaro". The real name is Kilima Njaro where Kilima is swahili for Mount or Mountain

    August 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Reply
  6. Andrew


    Stay strong.

    August 5, 2010 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  7. Chrissie

    Hi Martina

    Have followed your career form the very start,
    brought your book Shape your self it so inspired me.
    You are very brave to go public when you didn't have to.
    Must have saved many life's and made many of us get checked
    out, For that Thank you ! Wish you well Chrissie

    August 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  8. Carl

    One word Martina,

    August 5, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Reply
  9. Lara

    Hi Martina,

    My mom had cancer when she was 42 and is now 67. Cancer can be beaten so there is always hope.

    I would like to ask you, "What is it like to win Wimbledon?"

    God Bless you Martina,

    August 5, 2010 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  10. Lara


    I have another question. Are you angry because of the cancer? If you are, it is okay to be angry and if you believe in God, it is also okay to be angry with God.


    August 5, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Reply
  11. Marianne van der Lubbe

    Hi Martina,
    I am 60 years old and had brestcancer last year.
    Besides 2 operations I had 25 radiations and 6 chemo therapie treatments. It has a big influence on my life.
    Did the brestcancer change your outlook on life?
    Are there things that you do different now?
    Take care. Love Marianne

    August 5, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  12. estelle lévêque

    hello martina, you were a great help to me when i was a teenager struggling to accept the person i was. i'm french and i saw you playing at roland garros this year. you were great, very friendly. my question is 'how was your experience with the french national health service in france or with the french medical system in general ? wish you all the best

    August 5, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Reply
  13. PW

    I hope you are well. My question is have you any plans to support breast cancer charities?

    August 5, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  14. Dennis

    Martina, just want to thank you for so many wonderful years of top notch
    tennis. Excitement and joy were the result each time you played.
    Bless you and keep playing!

    August 5, 2010 at 7:49 pm | Reply
  15. al calarco

    Hello Martina!


    ...i wonder if there is one specific match in your amazing career....which you would like to do-over??

    stay positive Martina....


    August 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  16. Shelley Sacks

    Martina, you have always been one of my heroes, facing adversity from an early age and going forward in your quest to be who you are in the world. You stand on top of my list of famous people who I would love to meet one day, together with Oprah and Christiane Amanpour. I want to wish you continued courage as you fight probably the most difficult match of your life and when you are well again, will you ever come and play tennis in Japan, where I live now? I would soooo love to meet you

    August 5, 2010 at 10:02 pm | Reply
  17. Catherynne A. Jean

    Martina, as a fellow breast cancer survivor, I want to both let you know that you have the mental strength and discipline to battle this in both your mind and body. But as a woman who might be used to 'toughing it out on your own' I want to encourage you to let other people give to you during this time. Especially other women. I found that so many women were helpful to me, taking me to chemo, talking with me, staying with me, helping me to just get through the exhaustion of chemo (and later radiation). I found it a great lesson. Do you try to do too much on your own? Please let people help you – and they want to help you to show their love and concern. Caring and nurturing behavior is what we can do as human beings for each other, for we have to trust the drugs and treatment to battle the cancer!

    August 5, 2010 at 10:19 pm | Reply
  18. Keira

    I would like to ask Martina - how did you deal with the adversity of your cancer diagnosis? Did you pull away in order to deal with it on your own or did you immediately rely on family/friends?

    Big fan of hers!!! Much success always!!


    August 5, 2010 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  19. Krishna Desiraju

    Dear Martina,

    Great fan...thanks for the wonderful Wimbledon memories. Where has modern tennis gone wrong?

    August 6, 2010 at 2:28 am | Reply
  20. TAO

    Hi Martina, you've been a sensation to watch on the court all these years. On the cancer issue, my advice is for you to keep off all the publicity and get spiritual about it. Make an appointment with Bishop David Oyedepo of Winners' Chapel in Nigeria – cancer fears him!

    All the best Martina.

    August 6, 2010 at 7:49 am | Reply
  21. Fadly

    Martina, what did you do when you felt down or sad?

    August 6, 2010 at 9:39 am | Reply
  22. aileen1018

    Hi Martina! In my book you are truly Tennis' living legend.You have all the tennis titles tucked under your belt.My question is,being an athlete, we all know that athletes are the most disciplined,most healthy,most active people on earth,short of saying that it's nearly impossible for you guys to get sick.How did you take it when you first learned that you have cancer?

    Like the battles you have won on court,be it grass or clay,I know you will pull through and win your fight against cancer with an ace! My prayers are with you Martina.Godspeed!

    August 6, 2010 at 11:06 am | Reply
  23. christy

    its really a pity what you are going thru, Martina, but i have an advice
    there is only One person that Understands your pain more and cares so much more than all of us that are feeling for you, i dont know if you know him.. JESUS.... if you dont please try and do, he will help you, whichever way you dont battle with anything again after your 102 years on earth.
    He will help you live to that age painlessly. All the best

    August 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm | Reply
  24. Taline Ekizian

    Hey Martina...Hope such an adverstiy contributed you to fasten your faith and self-confidence.Now that you're cancer-free, how can describe yourself? Do you think you're special since God chose you ?

    Thank you
    Taline Ekizian
    Beirut, Lebanon

    August 6, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Reply
  25. Sal Zanca


    What is the thing that has surprised you the most so far in this?

    Stay Strong

    France (Near Roland Garros :):):))

    August 6, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  26. Ndukwe

    hi Martina, you are an inspiration to many young people in the way you are fighting this,i wish you the best.Martina i want to ask you what was the best moment in your tennis career.thanks.

    August 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Reply
  27. Sigrid

    You are just awesome! I've followed your game of tennis since I was a little girl growing up in Florida. Now I am a 47 year old women who is heading to remove a lump on Monday. I just pray that it is nothing serious. Just wondering if you have ever heard about the medicinal benefits of tumeric? A recent study has revealed the when mice consume turmeric, it prevents breast cancer from creeping into their lungs. Maybe we should think about sprinkling it on our everything we eat!Thank you Martina for making the game of tennis an interesting one! If you ever make it to Kuwait I would love to have the pleasure of meeting you! May you continue to find strength and great health in your life and may we pray for all of the other women who have fought this cancer and the ones fighting this at this moment.
    You are a true CHAMPION!

    August 6, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Reply

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