Navratilova to attend French Open despite radiotherapy

By Frank Pingue

TORONTO (Reuters) - Martina Navratilova said on Thursday she will commentate at this year's French Open while undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer.

The 53-year-old, one of the greats of women's tennis, told Reuters in a telephone interview from New York that she felt great physically and did not expect her six-week radiation therapy in Paris during next month's French Open to get in the way of prior commitments.

"My life has not changed other than I have to be in one place for six weeks to sit through radiation," she said.

"I still play hockey, I am playing tennis this weekend and I'll be commentating for the Tennis Channel during the French Open and Wimbledon."

She had wanted to keep the news quiet but later realized she could help others by going public and raising awareness that early detection can help save lives.

Navratilova, a health and fitness ambassador for AARP, a non-profit organization that helps people over 50 improve the quality of their lives, will remain active and plans to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa this December.

Czech-born Navratilova, who became a U.S. citizen in 1981, said talking about the disease had been emotionally taxing however.

She referred specifically to 23-year-old Rafael Nadal of Spain, who was unable to defend his Wimbledon crown last year because of tendinitis in his knee, as an example.

"Look at Nadal. He is a guy in his prime physically and he can't handle it," said Navratilova.

"Players are taxed so much because there is there is so much demand for their time. but most of all we are traveling more, playing on hard surfaces and the season is too long and needs to be shortened."

(Editing by Alan Baldwin)