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Martina Navratilova given golden racquet in Rome, gives emotional acceptance speech in Italian
“I’ve gone through a very difficult year but now I’m OK,” said the Hall of Famer, who was recently diagnosed with throat and breast cancer.
Published May 21, 2023
WATCH: Martina Navratilova gives an update on her health at the Miami Open
Sunday was a day for legends at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, and not just because Daniil Medvedev—whose celebration upon winning the 2021 US Open was so bizarre that “only legends will understand” it—was vying for another title.
Before the rain-delayed men’s final, 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Navratilova was awarded the Racchetta d’Oro (golden racquet) for her vast contributions to tennis. The legend gave a touching speech to the crowd in Rome, in Italian:
“Tennis gave me a surprising life for which I am very grateful,” she said. “I always tried to give something back when I played, and also in retirement.”
Translating the speech for European viewers on Prime Video, Daniela Hantuchova was forced to stop at one point, overcome with emotion.
“I will try not to be emotional here because every word Martina said, you can see how much it means to her,” said the Slovakian, per Express.co.uk. “Basically saying the passion that the Italian crowd brings here to the tournament is the way she always tried to play tennis, first time she played here was 1973, and even though she never won the tournament she always felt like this was her home.
“And she loves the food obviously, not like days today and she’s going to have the ice cream but she talked about how much she always enjoyed playing here in Rome.”
The 66-year-old Hall of Famer also gave a brief update on her health, having recently been diagnosed with throat and breast cancer.
“I’ve gone through a very difficult year but now I’m OK,” said the four-time singles runner-up in Rome. Navratilova also won three doubles at Foro Italico, the last at age 46 with Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Navratilova began receiving cancer treatment in January, and by March was back working for Tennis Channel at the Miami Open.
"It’s great to be back, I was so nervous coming in here," she said then, alongside boothmate Mark Petchey. "I was hoping to come back at Indian Wells, but it all worked out for me. Thrilled to be here, so happy to be working.
"How many people can say that? I’m thrilled to be working! It’s good to be back."