Cancer victim Kleybanova wins comeback match in Miami
March 21, 2012 -- Updated 1733 GMT (0133 HKT)
Russia's Alisa Kleybanova has won two WTA Tour titles since turning professional in 2003.
- Alisa Kleybanova wins on her return to tennis at the Miami Masters
- The Russian had been out for 10 months battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma
- The 22-year-old battles to a three-set victory over Sweden's world No. 64 Johanna Larsson
- Kleybanova has won two WTA titles during her nine years on the circuit
(CNN) -- A tennis player's biggest challenge usually comes from the opposite baseline, but Alisa Kleybanova has taken on an opponent of an entirely different nature over the last 10 months.
The former world No. 20 announced in July 2011 she had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a form of cancer, after missing both the French Open and Wimbledon.
The 22-year-old Russian made a successful return to the court at the Miami Masters on Tuesday after battling to overcome the disease.
It was a fairytale return for Kleybanova, who was handed a wildcard for the U.S. hard-court tournament, as she came from behind to record a 2-6 6-3 6-2 first-round win against 64th-ranked Swede Johanna Larsson..
Venus Williams set for comeback
Venus Williams vows to rise again
"The first match back from anything is always difficult, but especially this time I really had no idea how it was going to be out there," Kleybanova told the WTA's official website.
"Tennis-wise I felt pretty good from the beginning but Johanna has a difficult game to play against, she makes you run a lot out there -- she makes you tired even if you're in your best shape."
Kleybanova, who will face 20th-seeded compatriot Maria Kirilenko next, said fighting the illness has given her a different perspective on the sport.
It's my work, but I really just wanted to enjoy every point and every moment
"I'm looking at my matches differently now," she said. "It's my work, but I really just wanted to enjoy every point and every moment.
"Even when I lost the first set I wanted to stay positive and just enjoy myself out there, and that's why I was able to stay out there and change the way the match was going.
"It's not just about the win though, it's that I'm back on court. If I didn't win, it's not like I would have been mad. I was just happy to be playing points, feeling all the emotions again... it's something I missed a lot and it was all out there today."
It was also a memorable occasion for Kleybanova's coach Julian Vespan, who she described as her "best friend."
"Of course he's very, very happy I won, but he's also my best friend and he feels happy when I feel good and when I'm smiling. He just wants me to be happy. When he saw me enjoying myself again he was very happy for me."
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1208 GMT (2008 HKT)
Rafael Nadal's body might be giving him a few problems, but his mind remains as strong as ever. Will the Spaniard add to his haul of 14 grand slam titles?
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
A year that began in uncertainty for Roger Federer ended with a historic title for the 17-time grand slam champion and his country.
November 27, 2014 -- Updated 1716 GMT (0116 HKT)
The Scot has served up a few changes to his support team in 2014 but there's one person who isn't going anywhere -- his new fiancée Kim Sears.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
His distinctive crocodile logo is seen on clothing all over the world, but Rene Lacoste also left a lasting legacy in the development of tennis.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 0636 GMT (1436 HKT)
Marin Cilic follows in the footsteps of his coach Goran Ivanicevic by claiming a grand slam crown for Croatia, winning the U.S. Open.
September 14, 2014 -- Updated 1334 GMT (2134 HKT)
Serena Williams is without peer in the modern women's game and now she is on a par with two American tennis legends from the past.
September 2, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Over the course of her remarkable life, Althea Gibson was many things to many people -- but it was tennis where she really left her mark.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Canada and tennis? Really? Yup. The North American tennis power balance is swinging away from the States.
August 21, 2014 -- Updated 1252 GMT (2052 HKT)
As a player he was as fiery as his hair -- and as Novak Djokovic's coach, Boris Becker says he has to battle to keep his emotions in check.
August 20, 2014 -- Updated 1102 GMT (1902 HKT)
Tennis great Boris Becker says he was stunned by the level of criticism he received after being appointed as Novak Djokovic's coach.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1101 GMT (1901 HKT)
"I didn't cry once when I practiced in front of the mirror," says Martin Emmrich. But the nerves kicked in when he got down on one knee on court.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
When Agnieszka Radwanska refused to look her opponent in the eye after losing at Wimbledon, it raised more than eyebrows.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 0114 GMT (0914 HKT)
It's 10 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court, launching herself as a star.
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 0746 GMT (1546 HKT)
He's regularly voted France's favorite famous person, but many of the nation's youth have "no idea" about his glorious sporting past
April 29, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Five-time grand slam champion Martina Hingis has followed her mom into a coaching role, setting up a new tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.