Fighting back: Three players who beat cancer to return to tennis

·2-min read

Carla Suarez Navarro makes an emotional return to tennis on Tuesday, playing at the French Open just five weeks after revealing she had recovered from cancer.

AFP Sport looks at the Spaniard's story as well as other players to have won the ultimate battle.

Carla Suarez Navarro

-- Former world number six Suarez Navarro was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma last summer and immediately underwent a gruelling course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

In April, the 32-year-old tweeted news of her recovery.

"Another step forward. Today I finished my treatment and overcame Hodgkin lymphoma. Thanks to all for your warm messages. Every word of support gave me strength during the past few months. All my gratitude to healthcare professionals who take care of us every day. I'M CURED!"

Suarez Navarro, twice a quarter-finalist in Paris, starts her final Roland Garros campaign before retirement against former US Open champion Sloane Stephens on Tuesday.

And there are plenty of players delighted to see the popular Spaniard back in action.

"As a person, she always been one of the most sympathetic girls on the tour. Pretty humble, down to earth," said former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

"I saw her in Madrid and in the situation I didn't really know what to do. I said, Carla, can I hug you? She said, Yeah."

Alisa Kleybanova

-- Kleybanova, a former world number 20 who had impressive wins over the likes of Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters, was diagnosed with cancer in July 2011 before returning to the tour in 2012.

The luckless Russian then saw her career derailed by a series of knee injuries which kept her sidelined for a further three more years.

Now 31, Kleybanova last played on tour in 2018 in ITF events in Florida while her last appearance on the main WTA Tour was in qualifying in Moscow in 2017.

Victoria Duval

-- American Duval reached the third round of Wimbledon in 2014, making her top 100 debut in the process. However, it was also at the All England Club that she announced she had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. In September that year, she revealed she was cancer free before returning to the tour in August 2015.

Now ranked at 427 in the world, Duval's most recent appearance at the top level was at the 2019 US Open. This year, she has been limited to a handful of second-tier ITF events in the United States.

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