Carla Suarez-Navarro cautiously imagined leaving the tennis stage.
Play one last time in the big stadiums of this world, then open a new chapter with your partner – that was the plan until this terrible diagnosis turned everything upside down in August 2020: a tumor of the lymphatic system.
But even in the darkest hours, the fighter immediately saw a glimmer of hope, not wanting cancer to spell the end of her career.
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“Tennis gave me a lot and I always wanted to be able to say goodbye on the court. I wanted to be able to pick the last blow, to be able to make a date – that’s something I wanted from the bottom of my heart,” the 32-year-old said – and her wish would come true.
The return of Suarez Navarro is absent in the French Open
Cancer is over, and Suárez-Navarro will return to the French Open, which starts on Sunday.
With a year late, the Spanish can organize her farewell tour according to her wishes. “I’ve been working for the past few months to give myself the chance to compete in Paris for the last time,” the former sixth seed told the world. Then Wimbledon, the US Open, and maybe even the Olympics.
“All the big tournaments were the last time,” said Suarez Navarro. “This is my big dream.”
Bad prognosis at the US Open
During the US Open last fall, she revealed her terrible prognosis to the public.
The so-called Hodgkin’s lymphoma made a six-month chemotherapy treatment inevitable, and the scene’s shock was remarkable, with Suarez Navarro being one of the most famous players on the tour due to her warm nature. But the response was also great, from Novak Djokovic to Simona Halep with best wishes.
The joy was even greater when Suárez Navarro announced her recovery on Twitter at the end of April, in a picture cheering at a victory in a shirt that said “stronger than cancer” – stronger than cancer.
Suarez Navarro: “Okay, Doctor, what should I do?”
With her tireless fighting spirit that always defines her on the field, Suarez Navarro has cured the disease as well.
Her first reaction to the diagnosis was: “Okay Doctor, what should I do to get it right again?” After all, she “doesn’t want people to remember me in a hospital bed.” She actually did return as a sparring partner at the tournament in Madrid – the fact that the comeback is now working in Paris is very special for her.
Suarez Navarro said: “Roland Garros is a tournament that has given me some of the best moments of my career.” In 2008 she reached the quarter-finals as a qualifier on her Grand Slam debut, and her last appearance in Paris, for which she fought so hard, would not be less passionate.
She said, “I just hope to enjoy it to the fullest.”