Alisa Kleybanova is undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer. The Russian, who turned 22 today, announced on the WTA web site that she is currently at a hospital in Italy.
"It's not an easy time for me right now. I've been a bit unlucky with my health,” said Kleybanova, who is considered one of the WTA up-and-comers and reached a career-high No. 20 ranking earlier this February. "I've been having treatment and it has been going well, but it takes lots of patience and I've had to be really strong to go through this. The good news is after I do treatment for a few more months, if I feel well, there's a chance I'll be able to play tennis again. I really miss playing - I miss seeing fans and friends around the world, I miss hitting the ball, I miss everything. Tennis has been my life for the last 15 years."
Kleybanova, who early in the spring complained to TENNIS.com about feeling generally lethargic, hasn’t played a tournament since Rome in May. The general prognosis for younger people with stage 1 or 2 Hodgkin's lymphoma is positive. Many young patients are said to live 40 years or more after treatment.
“I am a strong person. I've shown it before,” Kleybanova said. “Obviously this is different than anything I've ever experienced, but after this is over my life will be even better than before. This is the toughest time in my life, and I hope it always stays the toughest time in my life. I'm sure I'll be able to overcome this - it's just a matter of patience and time. When this is over, everything will be even better than before."
Tennis Channel reporter Cari Champion tweeted that she had spoken to Kleybanova and her conversation with the Russian will be broadcast sometime later today. Champion said that Kleybanova has Stage 2 Hodgkin's lymphoma.
—Ed McGrogan & Matthew Cronin