Victoria Duval, an 18-year-old American ranked No. 114, has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Duval received the diagnosis after her first round of qualifying at Wimbledon last month but decided to keep playing because, she said, "being on court provided me with much comfort." She reached the main draw and upset No. 29 Sorana Cirstea in the first round before losing to Belinda Bencic. After Duval returned to the United States, more tests confirmed the diagnosis.
Her agency, IMG, said Duval will undergo treatment immediately. The cancer was caught at an early stage, according to her representatives, and the prognosis is for a full recovery in a few months.
"It is with a heavy heart that I will have to step away from tennis competition for a short period," Duval said in a statement. "I have complete faith that God will assist me and my family with all that we need to achieve victory and become stronger from this journey. I intend to put up my best fight and have a full recovery. I picture myself healthy, stronger and competing again soon with even more appreciation for the game I so love. I am grateful in advance to my fans and friends for their support and positive thoughts while I will undergo my treatment and fight this battle."
Duval, a Miami native whose parents are from Haiti, made a name for herself at the 2013 U.S. Open. As a qualifier ranked No. 296, she stunned 2011 champion Sam Stosur in the first round for her first victory at a Grand Slam tournament. Rapper Lil' Wayne and New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire were among those who congratulated the bespectacled Duval, who later appeared on The Tonight Show.
"I am very goofy off the court," Duval said at the U.S. Open. "I think I'm very much a child at heart. On the court, you have to be a warrior because that's just the sport we are in. Off the court, I think it's important to have fun and be a good role model for other people. My motto is: Have fun."
Duval has faced her share of adversity at a young age. At 7, she was held at gunpoint by robbers at her aunt’s Port-au-Prince home before being freed. In 2010, her father, Jean-Maurice, a physician, was severely injured in the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti.
The tennis world reacted quickly with well wishes for Duval on Friday. Here's a sampling of the reaction from Twitter:
Thoughts and prayers with Vicky Duval. Can't find a sweeter girl than Vicky. We are all behind you! — Ryan Harrison (@ryanharrison92) July 4, 2014
Thinking about Victoria Duval during this hard time in het life! X — Kim Clijsters (@Clijsterskim) July 4, 2014
Prayers are out to Vicky Duval. Hoping she recovers soon — Madison Keys (@Madison_Keys) July 4, 2014
Prayers and best wishes go to 18 year old American Vicky Duval for a speedy recovery. You won't find a sweeter girl. x — Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) July 4, 2014