Don’t pity me, says can­cer sur­vivor

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in New York

Can­cer sur­vivor Alisa Kley­banova en­joyed a win­ning re­turn to Grand Slam ten­nis on Mon­day at the US Open, but pleaded with fans not to pity her af­ter her coura­geous bat­tle for sur­vival.

The 24-year-old Rus­sian was di­ag­nosed with Hodgkin’s lym­phona in 2011, an ill­ness that forced her off the tour un­til three months ago.

Kley­banova, who once reached No 20 in the world but now stands at No 363 in the rank­ings, marked her first ma­jor ap­pear­ance in more than two years with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win over No 44 Mon­ica Puig of Puerto Rico.

“I’m happy that all those things are over for me now. I went through them. I was a win­ner in that bat­tle,” said Kley­banova.

“I hear a lot from peo­ple that I’m a big in­spi­ra­tion for them. A lot of peo­ple now look up to me. I mean, I think it’s great. But I don’t want to be an ex­am­ple.

“I’m not try­ing to show any­thing or what­ever. I do it for my­self.

“I want to play ten­nis. I’m not try­ing to pre­tend any­thing. But if my story in­spires peo­ple and gives them more be­lief, makes them feel stronger at some point, that’s great.”

Kley­banova came off the tour in the mid­dle of 2011 and played just one tour­na­ment in Mi­ami in 2012 be­fore launch­ing her come­back on a full-time ba­sis in May this year.

It be­gan with sec­ond- tier tour­na­ments be­fore Kley­banova re­turned to the big time in Toronto, where she lost in the first round, and then at Cincinnati, where she won one match be­fore head­ing for New York.

It was a come­back she was al­ready dream­ing of when she was first di­ag­nosed.

Back then she an­nounced the bomb­shell news on her web­site un­der the head­line: “Alisa Kley­banova de­feats Hodgkin’s Lym­phoma 6 love, 6 love.”

“I just wanted to come back on the court so much. I wanted to play ten­nis again so much that it wasn’t a ques­tion for me,” said the Rus­sian.

“I wanted to be back healthy and play again. I was very pa­tient. I wasn’t so stressed about those things. I just took it as part of like when you do very tough train­ing, you know it’s go­ing to be tough.

“You have to go through this, be­cause af­ter­wards things will get bet­ter.”

Kley­banova next faces Serb ninth seed Je­lena Jankovic for a place in the fi­nal 32.

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