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Chris Chase

Navratilova hospitalized after giving up on Kilimanjaro climb

Chris Chase
Busted Racquet

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Martina Navratilova seemed to sense that all wasn't right with her health during her trek to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. On a daily blog she was writing to chronicle her climb to the top of Africa's tallest mountain, the 18-time Grand Slam champion mentioned the hardships she and her team of 27 climbers were encountering.

On the third day, she wrote:

Well, no one prepared me for this. As we headed for Mawenzi Tarn, we have had to fight our way through blizzards and cope with unexpected bitter cold. The snow is not settling on the ground, thank goodness, but still the conditions are very difficult and unpleasant.

The guides tell me this is most unusual, but that is not much consolation ... I was expecting it to be cold and snowy, but not so soon. One thing is clear -- it's going to add to the difficulty of the climb, but we are all in good spirits and the difficult conditions have brought us even more together as a group.

On the fourth day:

The weather is a little better, but the going is getting tougher and tougher. It seems to be constantly steep and as we started to approach the highest point yet, 4,500 metres above sea level, sheer exhaustion sets in for much of the group, and with heavy legs and chests pounding due to a lack of oxygen, every step becomes an effort.

And on the fifth day, with just one more day and 5,000 more feet to go to reach the 19,341-foot summit, the tennis great was taken down the mountain by porters and sent to a hospital after suffering breathing problems. Navratilova, who was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, suffered from high-altitude pulmonary edema, which is a buildup of fluid in the lungs brought on by high altitudes.

According to Dr. David Silverstein, a consultant in internal medicine at the Nairobi Hospital, Navratilova's hospitalization isn't related to her breast cancer or treatments. He said it's a common affliction in people climbing mountains and resolves itself quickly once off the mountain. The doctor said he expects the tennis great to be released in two or three days.

Some may classify this as a failure for Navratilova. Nonsense. She's had plenty of failures during her illustrious career on and off the court, but not getting to the top of a four-mile-high mountain isn't one of them. The achievement is in trying at all.

Get well soon, Martina.

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