- Tennis greats Martina Navratilova, Sloane Stephens, and Madison Keys open up about preventive care and emotional health
- A panel of health experts from the WTA, Hologic, WHOOP and Modern Health discuss new data from the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index and share steps women can take to improve their health and well-being
NEW YORK -- Continuing the mission of empowering women to prioritize their health, the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) and its lead global sponsor and official health partner, Hologic, united some of the world’s most renowned female athletes and healthcare experts at Her Health Advantage, a panel discussion event hosted on Aug. 25 in New York City for media and key influencers.
Moderated by women’s health expert Dr. Jessica Shepherd, the event saw Hologic’s VP of Worldwide Medical Affairs, Dr. Susan Harvey; Hologic’s President of Diagnostic Solutions, Michelle Garsha; WTA’s Medical Advisor, Dr. Jennifer Maynard; WHOOP’s VP of Performance Science, Kristen Holmes; and Modern Health’s Global Clinical Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Manager, Dr. Jessica Jackson all join forces with WTA Legend Martina Navratilova, 2017 US Open Champion Sloane Stephens and Grand Slam finalist Madison Keys to shine a light on the healthcare challenges women face today, as well as opportunities to improve their performance, livelihood, and well-being.
Dr. Shepherd started the discussion by emphasizing the objective of Her Health Advantage, stating, “Today’s event is about speaking out on preventive care for women. There are actionable steps we can all take towards prioritizing our physical and emotional health — and one of the most important, yet most overlooked, is scheduling your Well Woman exam. We urge you to book that appointment with your doctor today.”
With exclusive insight into the Hologic Global Women’s Health Index, an unprecedented study of women’s health, the panelists unpacked unique and crucial data that represents the views of 94% of the world’s women and girls age 15 or older.
They shared that more than 1.5 billion women interviewed for the Index in 2021 said they were not tested for any type of cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, or sexually transmitted infections in the past year.
“Combined, these four conditions kill or harm billions of people around the globe each year,” Dr. Susan Harvey said. “The significant lack of preventive care is distressing because as a breast health expert for decades, I have seen firsthand the life-saving and life-changing impact of early detection and treatment.”
Opening up about her own breast cancer experience, Martina Navratilova emphasized the impact of the Hologic-WTA alliance, stating, “As a female athlete and breast cancer survivor, I see this event and partnership as a quintessential moment -- one that inspires change in how society perceives and tackles women’s health and wellness.
Today is a priceless opportunity to use our voices and raise the bar for how women can live healthier lives through preventive care, which is what saved my life and saves countless lives around the world every day.”
In focusing on the emotional side of women’s health, Modern Health’s Dr. Jessica Jackson spotlighted “When it comes to mental health, a lot of the research we have around women is relatively new. In fact, women have historically existed at the periphery of the mental healthcare system, with men being the default subjects in medical research until the early 1990s.
This combined with the fact that women are, in general, more affected by depressive disorders than men due to a complex mixture of biological, social, and cultural factors means that it is even more important for us to normalize the conversation of mental health and break down barriers to accessing care.”
Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys also joined the stage to share their own journeys of emotional well-being and explained what inspires them to use their platforms to help others do the same. Both spoke candidly on the pressures of being a professional athlete and the relatable approach they apply to their daily physical and mental health.
Madison Keys shared, “I have a therapist that I talk to, and for me, it’s such a valuable resource that I prioritize. Also, being kind to yourself is such an important thing. As women, we sometimes forget to make time for that.”
Managing the impacts of social media on emotional health, Sloane Stephens shared some techniques that work for her, stating, “Being able to separate my work and personal life has been super important for me.”
Dr. Jennifer Maynard, a WTA Medical Advisor and Mayo Clinic physician, also weighed in, explaining “Even female athletes who are performing at the highest level of their sport are not immune to the health challenges that affect other women.
By offering comprehensive multidisciplinary physicals to players, the WTA is not only focused on delivering the highest standard of support, but also removing stigmas associated with female health care, from sensitive topics like the importance of the menstrual cycle, breast health and cervical cancer screenings to nurturing the body for return to competition postpartum.”
In examining the ways women can make themselves physically and emotionally resilient, WHOOP VP of Performance Science Kristen Holmes highlighted the opportunity for more preventative measures adding, "There's been an historic lack of athletic performance research on women's health which has put our knowledge of female physiology far behind that of male, but we are working together to empower women with personalized, actionable insights.
Through tools like WHOOP wearable technology and 24/7 health monitoring, women can identify the lifestyle choices and behaviors that support their unique wellness needs. The long term goal of our collective effort is to help women deepen their understanding of their bodies, take proactive steps to improve performance, and create better health outcomes."
In praising the contributions of all the panelists, Hologic’s Michelle Garsha described the challenges of women’s health as formidable but far from insurmountable. She said substantive improvements come from investments such as groundbreaking medical technologies focused on women, awareness outreach that empowers women to better advocate for their health needs, greater educational opportunities for girls and initiatives like Hologic’s Project Health Equality that reduce healthcare disparities hurting underserved women.
“We all can and must do our part to bring positive change,” Garsha said. “Put your health first and encourage those around you to do the same.”