Tokyo dream for Carla Suarez Navarro

After her final chemotherapy session, Spanish star says she'd like to bow out at the Olympic Games.

By Rory Jiwani
Picture by 2020 Getty Images

Carla Suarez Navarro plans to end her tennis career on a high at Tokyo 2020 after completing a six-month course of chemotherapy.

The 32-year-old cancer patient will undergo tests next week to see if the treatment has been totally successful, or whether she will need further radiotherapy treatment.

Suarez has been encouraged by doctors to keep playing and says she cannot wait to step back onto the court.

She told BBC World Service she wants to return for one last big event and could team up again with two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza.

The Spaniards reached the doubles quarter-finals at Rio 2016, and Muguruza visited her friend in hospital in November.

She said, "I don't want people to remember me in a hospital bed, so I'd like to go again into a big tournament.

"It would be a dream to do that - an Olympic Games to say bye to my tennis family and also all my tennis fans." - Carla Suarez Navarro to BBC World Service

Suarez shelves retirement plans after cancer diagnosis

At the end of the 2019 season, Suarez announced that the following year would be her last on the tour.

She played at last February's Qatar Open, going out to Petra Kvitova after taking the first set in their second-round clash.

It was an emotional occasion for Suarez who, four years previously, clinched the biggest title of her career in Doha.

The COVID pandemic saw competitive tennis grind to a halt after that with Suarez hinting that she might return for one last Madrid Open if the 2020 calendar was wiped out.

But in late August, she was forced to pull out of the US Open having been diagnosed with the cancer Hodgkin lymphoma.

The seven-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist, says he has responded "very well" to treatment and even practised with former French Open finalist Sara Errani in December.

She said, "What doctors said is basically that tennis and doing a sport was good for me so I decided to carry on with it.

"When Sara Errani came to Barcelona to train, it was really good. It was a very nice experience because it was the first time I'd got hold of a racquet in a few months."

Speaking to AS.com this week, Suarez said that she has had to rest at home for three days after her chemotherapy sessions but "by the fourth day I am perfect".

In the weeks without chemotherapy, she says, "I go to the gym twice, play tennis for three days, and swim one day."

While she does not think she will be ready for May's Madrid Open, Tokyo is definitely in her plans.

"I will have a check-up next week to see how everything has gone. There are two possibilities, that everything has disappeared and it is finished, or that there is something residual and they have to do a radiotherapy session.

"I would like to return to be able to say goodbye. If the check-up goes well and they tell me that everything is done, great. But I don't know when my body will get rid of everything that has been put into it. I would like to be ready in May, but I don't know if I can.

"For the Games, invitations are very specific but I have a protected ranking of number 68 and I could enter, because the cut is usually there. Hopefully, I can perform there. It could also be Wimbledon and US Open, ideally."

Suarez reached a career-high world ranking of six after that Qatar Open victory in February 2016.

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