Tennis great Martina Navratilova recounts having to give up Kilimanjaro climb after becoming seriously ill
Times sports columnist Bill Dwyre was one of a handful of reporters who spoke to Martina Navratilova by telephone Sunday morning following her release from a hospital where the tennis legend had been after becoming seriously ill during her attempt to climb Tanzania's 19,341-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro.
"We began climbing Monday," Navratilova, 54, said. "Immediately, it started to rain, then snow. It was foggy. I brought binoculars and never used them. It was so bad that I got lost trying to find my own tent at base camp.
"This was supposed to be fun, but nobody had fun. It was just survival. It is not an experience one would enjoy."
And that was before she got sick.
Navratilova, who was leading a team of 27 climbers to raise funds for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation charity, was taken ill on the fourth day of the climb. She was assisted down the mountain by porters and driven to nearby Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre for assessment, then flown to a Nairobi hospital for further tests that showed she was suffering from pulmonary edema, excessive fluid in the lungs.
During the early-morning phone conversation, Navratilova was asked whether she'd consider trying the climb again.
-- Kelly Burgess
Photo: Tennis legend Martina Navratilova rests during her charity attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro. Navratilova suspended her climb after becoming ill. Credit: Chris Jackson / Getty Images