Alisa Kleybanova will play at the Sony Ericsson Open next month. (Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images)
Alisa Kleybanova, who has been sidelined with Hodgkin's lymphoma since May 2011, will return to the WTA Tour next month at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.
In a statement posted on the WTA website, the 22-year-old Kleybanova said she finished her chemotherapy treatment in December and that doctors are pleased with her health. She is in Florida practicing and preparing for Miami, where she was given a wild card. If you want a guaranteed smile, look at the score line of Kleybanova's "Previous Match" on her official site: Alisa Kleybanova d. Hodgkin's lymphoma 6-0, 6-0.
Here's the full statement from an excited and relieved Kleybanova:
Hi to all my friends and fans!
It has been a long time since my last message... and now I really want to get back in touch with you and share all the great things and emotions I have!
I finished my treatments in December and a couple of weeks ago I did my last tests in Italy. The treatments were successful, my doctors are happy with my health and I'm feeling great!
I would like to thank the Hospital Gemelli in Rome (Prof. Giuseppe Leone, Dott. Stefan Hohaus and their Team), and the Hospital Silvestrini in Perugia (Prof. Brunangelo Falini, Dott. Flavio Falcinelli and their Team). From the bottom of my heart I want to thank my coach Iulian Vespan, my boyfriend Giacomo, my family and my close friends that were next to me all this time. I will never forget it...
I have started to train and right now I'm in Florida playing tennis again!!! It was physically really hard in the beginning, but it was so emotional that I didn't want to get off the court :) This is just amazing, I'm working out every day now and enjoying it so much more than before!
More than anything, I've missed the competition. For me tennis is not just going on the court and hitting the ball - it's testing yourself, seeing how good you are, trying new things, trying to improve, trying to win... For me the best part of tennis is the competition and I'm really looking forward to my comeback!
By the way, I just got confirmed my main draw wildcard into the Miami tournament, so I will see you guys really soon!!!
I don't think I have ever been more excited :)))
Kleybanova already has had a distinguished career, winning seven titles (two singles, five doubles) and reaching career highs of No. 20 in singles and No. 10 in doubles. She has nine career top 10 wins, including victories against Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams, Vera Zvonareva and Elena Dementieva.
Here are some highlights of one of her biggest victories, a 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (4) win over Clijsters in the third round of Indian Wells in 2010. Always a fighter, Kleybanova came back from 0-3, 0-40 in the third set and 0-4 in the tiebreaker for what was at the time her seventh consecutive victory. (She would extend that streak to eight before losing to Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals.)