Russia's Kleybanova in cancer battle

Fri, 15 Jul 19:19:00 2011

Russian tennis player Alisa Kleybanova is fighting cancer, the world number 28 announced via the WTA.

- Kleybanova has cancer

On her 22nd birthday Kleybanova, who has been absent from the women’s tour since withdrawing from the French Open in May, revealed that she was undergoing treatment in Italy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

"It's my birthday today and I want to thank all of you for the wonderful messages," she said in a statement released on the WTA's website. "I haven't written anything for a long time about why I haven't been on tour, so that's why I'm writing this today.

"It's not an easy time for me right now. I've been a bit unlucky with my health. I have Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer.

"I've been having treatment in Italy and it has been going well, but it takes lots of patience and I've had to be really strong to go through this."

Kleybanova, who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon and the Australian Open in 2008 and 2009 respectively, won two WTA tournaments in Malaysia and South Korea last year, reaching a career-high ranking of 20 before her illness.

The Moscow native said she hoped to return to tennis after her treatment.

"The good news is after I do treatment for a few more months, if I feel well, there's a chance I'll be able to play tennis again," she added.

"I really miss playing - I miss seeing fans and friends around the world, I miss hitting the ball, I miss everything. Tennis has been my life for the last 15 years.

"I am a strong person. I've shown it before. Obviously this is different than anything I've ever experienced, but after this is over my life will be even better than before.

"This is the toughest time in my life, and I hope it always stays the toughest time in my life. I'm sure I'll be able to overcome this - it's just a matter of patience and time."

Reda Maher - follow me on Twitter @Reda_Maher / Eurosport

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