Chris Evert gets second cancer diagnosis, will take break at ESPN

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ESPN analyst and former tennis star Chris Evert announced Friday that she will miss the network’s coverage of the Australian Open next month after being diagnosed with cancer for a second time.

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The announcement came 11 months after Evert declared she was free of ovarian cancer, which she had discovered in January 2022. Evert, 68, said she is undergoing chemotherapy. She plans to return for ESPN’s coverage of the remaining Grand Slam tournaments.

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“Since I was first diagnosed with cancer two years ago, I’ve been very open about my experience,” Evert said in a statement through ESPN. “I wanted to give all of you an update. My cancer is back.”

An 18-time Grand Slam singles champion, Evert is one of the most accomplished players in tennis history. She was ranked first or second in the world from 1975 to 1986, and she became the first player of any gender to win 1,000 singles matches. Evert was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1995.

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Evert’s younger sister, Jeanne Evert Dubin, a former world-ranked tennis player, died in February 2020 after a 2-1/2-year struggle with ovarian cancer. She was 62.

Nearly two years later, Evert was found to have had an early form of the disease after a preventive hysterectomy. Evert underwent six cycles of chemotherapy, bonding along her journey with friend and former rival Martina Navratilova, who in December 2022 received her own diagnoses of early-stage cancers in her throat and breast. (Navratilova in March said she was cancer-free).

Evert in January wrote an ESPN essay about her experience, citing doctors who told her she probably would have developed Stage 3 cancer within four months had the disease gone undiscovered. In the piece, she said she was “cancer-free, and there’s a 90% chance that the ovarian cancer will never come back.”

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In Evert’s announcement Friday, she said she felt fortunate doctors detected cancer cells early on.

“While this is a diagnosis I never wanted to hear, I once again feel fortunate that it was caught early,” she said. “Based on a PET CT scan, I underwent another robotic surgery this past week. Doctors found cancer cells in the same pelvic region. All cells were removed, and I have begun another round of chemotherapy.

“I will be unable to join my colleagues when ESPN makes its return to Melbourne for the Australian Open next month. But I’ll be ready for the rest of the Grand Slam season! I encourage everyone to know your family history and advocate for yourself. Early detection saves lives. Be thankful for your health this holiday season.”

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