Navratilova: The only failure is when you fail to try


Originally published on: 14/12/10 12:10

She had hoped to strike tennis balls off the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise awareness for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, but 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Navratilova admits she knew by Wednesday that she wouldn’t be able to complete the 5,895 metre-high climb.

Stretchered down the mountain on Thursday night after she was treated for high-altitude pulmonary edema, the tennis Legend revealed breathing struggles caused her most distress after she was released from a Nairobi hospital on Sunday.

“I didn’t feel badly, I just couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t get a full breath of air,” said the 54-year-old, who reached nearly 14,800 feet when she was told by a Doctor that she needed to descend.

“Nothing hurt, and for an athlete, that’s weird. Nothing hurt, but I [couldn’t] go on.”

Navratilova overcame breast cancer earlier this year, and while quitting is not a word in her vocabulary, the Prague-born tennis great said “when the doctor says you’re going down, you’re going down.”

Though unable to complete the climb, Navrtialiova helped raise $80,000 for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and believes that failing to reach the top may have actually helped to generate more publicity for the cause than if she had climbed to the summit.

“I always said the only failure is when you fail to try,” she said. “I guess the other failure is not giving your best effort. I did both: I tried and gave my best effort.”


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.