Originally written on Tennis Panorama  |  Last updated 11/15/14

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 22: Alisa Kleybanova of Russia plays a forehand in her third round match against Justine Henin of Belgium during day five of the 2010 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 22, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The 2012 Sony Ericsson Open has extended a main draw wildcard to WTA former World No. 20 Alisa Kleybanova.

 

The 22-year-old Russian was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphona in May 2011 and was forced to withdraw from the season’s remaining tournaments to undergo treatment. Before she was compelled to step away from the game, Kleybanova was a rising star on the WTA tour. She collected her first two career singles titles in 2010, and was off to a strong start in 2011 where she reached a career-high ranking of No. 20 in the world.

 

“We are pleased to extend a wildcard to Alisa,” said tournament director Adam Barrett. “She has shown tremendous perseverance and determination to return to the court and I know that her story can be an inspiration to others.”

 

Kleybanova has completed all of her tests and has begun training for her return to the tour. The Sony Ericsson Open will mark her 2012 debut.

 

“I finished my treatments in December and a couple of weeks ago I did my last tests in Italy,” said Kleybanova. “The treatments were successful, my doctors are happy with my health and I’m feeling great!”

 

The tournament awarded several wildcard entries last week; including seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams; Chilean Fernando Gonzalez who will retire after the tournament; and former World No. 6 David Nalbandian.

 

The women’s main draw begins on Tuesday, March 20, while the men’s main draw kicks off the following day on Wednesday, March 21. The qualifying rounds will be held Monday and Tuesday, March 19 and 20.

 

 

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