Martina Navratilova: Breast Cancer Battle Inspired Me to Do DWTS

Entertainment Mar. 28, 2012 AT 9:44AM
Martina Navratilova: Breast Cancer Battle Inspired Me to Do DWTS Credit: Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty images

Martina Navratilova's Dancing With the Stars journey came to an abrupt end Tuesday -- just when the tennis pro was getting comfortable with her ballroom moves.

"I felt so much more confident [dancing Monday] than the first week," Navratilova, 55, told Us Weekly after Tuesday's elimination show, where she was sent packing with pro partner Tony Dolvolani. "[DWTS] was very much out of my comfort zone although I became very comfortable doing it."

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Scoring 20/30 points for their foxtrot during the first week on the show, the couple faltered with Monday night's jive, finishing in last place with a cumulative 37/60 points. As a result, they faced elimination alongside Gavin DeGraw and Karina Smirnoff.

"I knew I'd be in jeopardy," said the star, who argued that the intricate footwork she fumbled early on in her jive routine led to her elimination. "I thought maybe I had a shot with the popular vote, but Gavin DeGraw is too popular so I didn't get it! That's how it goes."

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Vowing to keep dancing, Navratilova -- diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 -- hopes she inspired viewers to get proactively tested for the disease.

"I just wanted to get to be free to get over 2010, which was a big struggle for me," the athlete tells Us, explaining her motivation for taking part in the ABC series. "I wanted to encourage women to get screened for breast cancer and wanted to tell my story."

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Echoes partner Dovolani: "I wish everyone got the chance to learn what I've learned about her. She's one of the most wonderful people I've ever gotten the chance to work with. She's a female icon and probably the kindest heart I've come across in a long time."

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