NAIROBI, Kenya - Martina Navratilova was released from the hospital yesterday, 3 days after her fluid-filled lungs forced her to abandon her attempt to climb Africa's highest mountain.
The 54-year-old tennis great was carried down Mount Kilimanjaro on a stretcher Thursday night and Friday morning. Navratilova said she knew by Wednesday she wouldn't be able to reach the summit of the 19,340-foot mountain in Tanzania.
"I didn't feel badly, I just couldn't breathe. I couldn't get a full breath of air," Navratilova said shortly her release from the Nairobi hospital, where she was treated for high-altitude pulmonary edema. "Nothing hurt, and for an athlete that's weird. Nothing hurt, but I [couldn't] go on."
Navratilova, who had a bout with breast cancer this year, reached nearly 14,800 feet when a doctor with 27-person climbing team told her she needed to descend. The winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles said quitting is not in her vocabulary, but "when the doctor said you're going down, you're going down."
Navratilova kept a diary during her 4-day climb. Her last entry read: " 'I've never been so utterly exhausted. Everything is taking monumental effort, going to the bathroom, getting dressed, setting up tent. I don't want to ever . . . ' I can't read it. I stopped writing because I was crying, because I was so disappointed at how I felt," she said.
She wrote the entry Thursday afternoon, a few hours before descending.
Navratilova was climbing Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Kate Brewer, a Laureus representative who was on the climb, said the mountain guides told the group the weather - torrential rain, mist, cold - was the worst they had seen.