Martina Navratilova has revealed she has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The former tennis world champion, 53, said that finding out the news in February was devastating.

She has since had a lumpectomy and will begin a six-week course of radiation therapy next month.

Her prognosis is excellent and she plans to have the rest of her treatment in Paris, where she will work as a commentator for the French Open.

Navratilova told People magazine: “I cried. It knocked me on my ass, really. I feel so in control of my life and my body, and then this comes, and it’s completely out of my hands.

“I went four years between mammograms. I let it slide. Everyone gets busy, but don’t make excuses.

“I stay in shape and eat right, and it happened to me. Another year and I could have been in big trouble.”

The star said she planned to keep her diagnosis private but was persuaded to make it public to urge other women to attend screenings.

Navratilova is regarded as one of the world’s best tennis players of all time and has won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon a record nine times. She retired in 2006.

The tennis legend came out in 1981 and became a gay rights advocate.

She admitted she had lost “a lot” of money after her declaration but said: “It didn’t occur to me that I would deny who I was because of money.”