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A return to the French Open got Carla Suarez Navarro through cancer treatment

Carla Suarez Navarro has detailed how playing one last time at Roland Garros motivated her throughout her battle with cancer.

A former top-10 player and two-time French Open quarter-finalist, Suarez Navarro, had announced that she would be retiring at the end of 2020 before the first coronavirus pandemic hit and then, in September, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The 32-year-old thought that initially, she was suffering from COVID-19 but instead faced months of treatment before announcing she had been given the all-clear in April this year.

Suarez Navarro said: “It was a long time, really tough moments. Tough months. But every time I had on my mind that I want to be here, I want to come back. Roland Garros is one of my favourite tournaments, so I had it really clear that my first tournament will be this one.

“Then I tried to prepare myself for my best tennis that I can. Obviously I need more time, but I had a good time this week practising, I had a good level in my match.

“Of course I felt tired at the end. I knew that if I don’t close the match in two sets, it will be so difficult for me. But I’m really proud, too, of myself and really happy to have the chance to play here one last time.”

Suarez Navarro had not played a tournament since Doha last February, and she said: “Until March 1 of this year, I could not practise full. I started to play with soft balls, I started to play for 20 minutes. Then every day I’m going better. I played a little bit more.

“Of course it was tough. My body felt a lot of change in those months. But I did everything that I could to be here.”

Author: Jake Wilkin