WTA legend Martina Navratilova is recovering in a Nairobi hospital after having to halt prematurely her attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
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 up the 19,341 foot mountain in Tanzania. She was assisted down the mountain by porters and driven to the nearby Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre for assessment, then, as a precaution, she was flown to the Nairobi Hospital for further tests, which showed she was suffering from high altitude pulmonary oedema - an accumulation of fluid in the lungs.
Dr. David Silverstein of Nairobi Hospital said: "Basically this is fluid in the lungs related to high altitude. It is potentially dangerous when someone is at high altitude, but once brought down, recovery is quick. Martina is doing well and will continue to do well. Treatment is to remove the fluid through diuretics and to make the patient more comfortable with oxygen. She will spend two to three days in hospital. There will be no effects to long term health and patients get back to full fitness in due course. Martina's acute condition is not reflective of her health or fitness. It occurs in some people in conditions of low oxygen."
From her bed at the Nairobi Hospital, Martina said: "I'm disappointed not to be able to complete this amazing journey. It was something that I have wanted to do for so long, but it was not to be. I am so pleased that we got it going and I will be watching and waiting for news from the climb when they reach the summit tomorrow. I didn't make it, but I think it has been a great success as we have raised funds and awareness for the work that Laureus does."
Navratilova was in good spirits as she left the campsite at Horombo. She had reached 4500m during the day, the highest point of the climb so far.
Among Martina's team was badminton star Gail Emms and Paralympian Michael Teuber, who said: "The whole group of the climbers is very sad about Martina's situation, but at the same time we are glad to hear that she is doing fine. Now we are even more motivated and want to reach the summit also for her. I will carry the Laureus flag up to the top and stick it in the ground for her."
The climb began on Monday and is due to reach the summit Saturday. The Laureus team have had to face unseasonal weather of blizzards and mists which has made progress extremely difficult over the last few days.