The tennis legend’s dream of hitting tennis balls off Africa’s highest peak –Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro — was dashed when she had to turn back five days into the challenging climb after she began to feel ill.
Navratilova and the team, who have been climbing the mountain to raise money and awareness for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, have been battling havey snows and mist, and yesterday the 54 year old took to her blog to give a heads up on their struggles: ‘The weather is a little better, but the going is getting tougher and tougher.”
‘It seems to be constantly steep and as we started to approach the highest point yet, 4,500 metres (14,765 feet) above sea level, sheer exhaustion sets in for much of the group, and with heavy legs and chests pounding due to a lack of oxygen, every step becomes an effort.”
Navratilova earlier admitted that she has always wanted to climb the mountain but “that she was petrified of failing because then the whole world would know”. She had no worries about not being fit enough to make it to the top, but rather that the altitutude would pose a problem.
Navratilova, who was leading a group of 27 fundraisers, was “in good spirits” but disappointed that she had to abandon the climb up the 19,340-foot mountain, the sports charity said. She was helped down the mountain by porters and taken to a medical center for assessment. The rest of the team hopes to reach the summit on Saturday.