Martina Navratilova’s wife Julia Lemigova took up boxing to punch ‘fears aside’ over tennis icon’s double cancer diagnosis
Martina Navratilova’s wife has told how she took up boxing to punch away her “fears” after the tennis icon was diagnosed with breast and throat cancer.
Martina Navratilova’s wife took up boxing to punch her “fears aside” after the tennis icon was diagnosed with breast and throat cancer.
Julia Lemigova, 50, who married the record-breaking Grand Slam winner, 66, in 2014, added she held back tears for her partner’s sake when she told her she had been diagnosed with the disease.
She told the Daily Mail about taking up boxing three months ago amid fears Martina would not see the Christmas after she got news she had cancer: “I’m literally punching my fears aside; punching the panic out of myself and getting on with today.”
Martina was diagnosed with stage one cancer in January, and a few weeks after being told a swelling on her neck was cancerous, also got the shattering news a second unrelated tumour had been discovered on her breast.
Julia said about comforting Martina: “I’d just come home and was getting out of the car when Martina came out of the house to tell me (about the tumour on her breast.)
“I ran to her in silence. Grabbed her. Squeezed her. She was like, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ and crying.
“I knew my eyes were getting wet, but she didn’t see my tears. I was saying, ‘Listen, we’ll deal with this.’
“She said, ‘Julia, you’re squeezing me too hard.’
“It was because I was cramping. I literally forgot to breathe I was so scared.
“I never saw Martina going down without a battle and where there's a battle there is hope for a win. So, no, I never imagined losing her – that thought is too terrifying – but even so, there's somewhere in your stomach where it squeezes.
“You feel you have no air when those thoughts come into your mind. And you punch them away.
“I remember Mary (the couple’s agent Mary Greenham) once asked me how I was feeling. I said it was like I was being strangled. I was terrified.”
Martina is now in remission after several months of chemotherapy and radiation, though her and Julia’s plans to adopt are on hold while she recovers.