In mid-April, when she finished her chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, and received the green light from the doctors, a thought automatically came to Carla Suárez’s mind: Paris. Fifteen months after announcing that she had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of cancer that interrupted what was going to be her last season on the professional circuit, the Canary Islands prepared the bag and headed to Roland Garros to say goodbye to the great French as he intended to do before receiving the news that left the whole world tennis frozen, rallying and enjoying.
Suárez, who had played his last game in February 2020, completed the recovery process and rejoined last week at the tour. He had previously prepared his return to Barcelona, since March, and the sensations had been good. In this way, he concluded that there was no more time to lose and decided to return to the Bois de Boulogne, his favorite Grand Slam, the stage where he reached the quarterfinals in 2008 and 2014. “I’m counting the hours until the day arrives” , he expressed. And the day arrived.
This Tuesday, the Canarian returned to the track in the duel against the American Sloane Stephens (3-6, 7-6 (4) and 6-4 for the North American, after 2h 24m). In the middle of the afternoon, Simonne Mathieu stepped onto the arena, the third largest in the complex, to fight the North American in a pulse that meant victory in advance. It was the culmination of a complicated journey in which, he says, he has never come to fear the disease and in which his condition as an athlete has helped him keep his head strong. “I have never asked myself why it was my turn,” he explained upon his arrival in Paris.
“Our hearts are full of happiness. Grateful to give you the biggest welcome again ”, the organization of the tournament received him, in the umpteenth show of affection that he has received throughout the entire process because after all, the Spanish (32 years old) is one of the most appreciated players in the locker room for her sympathy and commitment to tennis, as well as one of the most respected because her one-handed backhand is in danger of extinction and because she has been one of the most regular competitors in the last decade.
“Just congratulate you for the attitude and everything you have transmitted during these complicated months that you have surely lived. You are a champion, you were already a champion on the track, but you have shown that you are also a champion outside ”, dedicated Rafael Nadal through a video that he published early in the day on his social networks. “She is a fighter. I love the way she has dealt with it all and having her back is incredible ”, added the Czech Petra Kvitova, one of the most recognized voices in the WTA dressing room and who in her day was able to re-engage in her sport after a violent episode in which a thief smashed his left hand with a knife.
Suárez, who had already been training with the rest of the players during the Mutua Madrid Open, returned this Tuesday through the big door. Logically fatigued, she faced Stephens and only leaned down when the engine had stopped. Even so, he took the first sleeve and served to win the second but the rival, a fronton, was later awarded the tie-breaker and imposed his lungs in the final.
“I am proud, because I have given everything to be here, but at the same time I am sad because I have lost. In fact, I’m a bit angry… ”she lamented. “Physically it was not bad, but three sets were a lot, considering where it came from. I leave with a mixture of sensations. I have enjoyed it, but with an audience [su partido fue programado en el último turno y a las 22.00 los aficionados abandonaron la pista por el toque de queda, fijado a las 23.00] I would have enjoyed it more. It was sad that they had to go. It was not what I had dreamed of, but I hope you enjoyed watching it on television. “
Now, his goal until the end of the year is to say goodbye to the main events that remain on the calendar (Wimbledon and the US Open) and try to catch the dream of reaching the Tokyo Olympics; something feasible, since although today it occupies the 118th position of the list, in principle it will use its ranking protected (68). “After what happened to me, at least I wanted to try to retire on a tennis court,” he says. So mission accomplished.