Carla Suárez Navarro made return to the French Open on Tuesday, the culmination of an incredible journey. Announcing retirement during the pandemic crisis in 2020, the Spaniard revealed she had Hodgkin Lymphoma. The former World #6 withdrew from last season’s US Open before the event started.
The Spaniard revealed news of her illness on her social media pages. Many of the rivals and peers expressed support as the fight began. Nothing else was important, just to fight the cancer and get well.
At 32 years old, the Spaniard wanted to retire on her own terms. No player wants to retire before they feel they should. Having made the decision to retire, Suárez Navarro planned 2020 to be the swan song. Coronavirus put paid to that, unfortunately.
The Spaniard looked to have played her last event in Doha in February 2020. She was defeated in the second round by Petra Kvitova after taking the first set. The global pandemic then halted most of the rest of the season. Suárez Navarro was out of tennis. Or so the world thought.
Having been treated for the cancer, the Spaniard announced in April that the chemotherapy had been successful. Cancer-free, Suárez Navarro plotted her return to the courts. The retirement is still on, but now on her terms.
The 2021 tour will mark the end of the career of a real character on the WTA circuit. The Spaniard starts her farewell season at Roland Garros. Suárez Navarro is also targeting the postponed Olympic Games as part of the last push in her tennis life, along with Wimbledon and the US Open.
Carla Suárez Navarro Cancer Discovery
The diagnosis of cancer came about by chance. On returning to practice after lockdown in the summer, Suárez Navarro noticed something wasn’t right. Feeling that the issue was because she had not played or practiced in months the Spaniard kept trying to play on.
The 32-year-old continued feeling unwell. Suárez Navarro went to hospital to be checked out. Ten days and numerous tests later, the cancer was diagnosed. Treatment began immediately. The Spaniard had both chemotherapy and radiotherapy successfully.
Carla Suárez Navarro is in remission from cancer. She will still be retiring from the sport she loves, however she gets to go on her terms.
Beginning with Roland Garros, the 2021 season will be her last. The crowds–wherever she plays–will be eager for her to do well.
In the first tournament on the farewell tour, the Spaniard started against Sloane Stephens. The Spaniard was hot out of the blocks and broke the American quickly. Suárez Navarro took the first set 6-3. The 32-year-old started well in the second too, breaking the American. She served for the match, only for Stephens to break back and forced a tiebreak.
The Spaniard fought hard in the tiebreak, but Stephens eventually claimed the breaker and forcing a decider. The third set started with the American breaking Suárez Navarro, who would need to dig deep and fight back to continue in Paris.
The Spaniard broke back to get the final set back on serve. Stephens, though broke straight back and served for the match in a big turnaround. Despite the defeat in the first event back, Suárez Navarro played a great match and can be proud of the performance. The Spaniard was clearly completely physically spent by the end of the match, barely able to move even during the points. She fought for every point to the absolute end, showing on the tennis court a microcosm of the fight she needed to win the much bigger battle already this year.
What a way to start the retirement tour.
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