Her Toughest Opponent How Tennis Champ Martina Navratilova Battled and Beat Cancer This year, more than 1.3 million women worldwide will hear the words that have breast cancer"- four words that will change their lives forever. That single moment will become a turning point, the start of a tenacious I battle against a killer. The day she heard those four words, Martina Navratilova cried. A woman who defected from Czechoslovakia at the age of 18, bravely blazed the trail for homosexual acceptance, a woman who many considered the best tennis player who ever lived, now braced for the fight of her life. Navratilova dominated the competition in the late '70s, '80s and early '90s.