Martina Navratilova, the 18-time Grand Slam tennis singles champion, is recovering in a Nairobi hospital after she was forced to give up climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, organizers of the fundraising event said.
Navratilova, who had been helped down Africa’s highest peak by porters after feeling unwell on the fourth day of the charity climb, is suffering from high altitude pulmonary edema, an accumulation of fluid in the lungs, the Laureus charity said today in an e-mailed statement.
The nine-time Wimbledon champion had initially been driven to the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre for assessment, where doctors decided she should be flown to Nairobi for further tests as a precaution, Laureus said.
“Basically this is fluid in the lungs related to high altitude,” said Dr. David Silverstein, a consultant in cardiology and internal medicine at the Nairobi Hospital. “It is potentially dangerous when someone is at high altitude, but once brought down, recovery is quick. Martina is doing well and will continue to do well.”
Navratilova, 54, will have to spend “two to three days,” in the hospital for treatment, Silverstein said. “There will be no effects to long-term health and patients get back to full fitness in due course. Martina’s acute condition is not reflective of her health or fitness. It occurs in some people in conditions of low oxygen.”
Navratilova, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in February, had been leading a team of 27 climbers to raise money for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. The charity supports community sports projects around the world.
She had been forced to stop the climb when the expedition reached an altitude of 4,500 meters (14,800 feet), Laureus said.
“I’m disappointed not to be able to complete this amazing journey,” Navratilova said in the statement “It was something that I have wanted to do for so long, but it was not to be.”
The climbers headed for the 5,895-meter peak had encountered “unseasonal weather of blizzards and mists over the last few days,” Laureus said.
After her cancer diagnosis, Navratilova had radiation therapy in Paris during the French Open in May, while also working as a commentator for the Tennis Channel. The Czech-born American said in the same month she had no trace of the disease after surgery. She had spent most of the year training for the climb.
The climbers, who started on Dec. 6, are scheduled to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania on Dec. 11.
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