For Nicole Gibbs, It’s the Victory Over Cancer that is the Biggest Win
(August 27, 2019) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Nicole Gibbs took Wimbledon champion and world No. 4 Simona Halep to a third set in her first-round loss at the US Open on Tuesday. Although “bummed” out about the narrow loss 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 in Louis Armstrong Stadium she has a new perspective on life after beating cancer.
“It’s not life and death out there,” Gibbs said. “It’s a privilege to be on a court like that against a player like that. I was just really trying to soak up the moment.”
Gibbs was diagnosed with a form of oral cancer.
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— Nicole Gibbs (@Gibbsyyyy) May 13, 2019
Initially, a growth in her mouth was thought to be nothing to worry about, her dentist initially noted.
“I mean, I was definitely, like, shocked,” Gibbs said of her initial reaction. “It was on a phone call. I had been told not to really worry about the biopsy. They thought it was going to be benign.
“So I wasn’t anticipating — I was nervous about it, but I wasn’t anticipating that it would be cancerous. So when I got the call, you know, the doctor on the phone was kind of like, Do you want to come in and talk about this?
“I was like, No, tell me now.
“He said, Well, it was positive for cancer.
“I fortunately was already sitting down, otherwise I think I would have needed to sit down. Then I was just really disappointed that I was alone. I called my fiancé right away and kind of fell apart when I called him. He’s always such a comforting influence for me, but he was definitely pretty scared, too, at that moment.”
The 26-year-old Gibbs originally from Cincinnati, had surgery in May and was able to get into the US Open Qualifying tournament, getting into the tournament as a lucky loser after a player pulled out of the tournament. Gibbs is a former two-time NCAA champion at Stanford University.
She’s not quite 100 percent but she’s back in the game “I feel a little bit maybe still under fighting weight for my tennis,” Gibbs said. “That’s definitely something I’m going to look into.
“I think I held up pretty well physically, but could have held up a little bit better in the third set. I think I lost some depth on my shots.”
Halep said in her news conference that she could see that Gibs was tiring in the third set.
“It’s tough when you don’t compete. I didn’t compete for two weeks. I felt tough when I was coming back, so I understand. She made the great effort today on court.”
“I think just kind of trying to figure out, you know, where tennis stood in all of it from the beginning, trying to figure out whether I should be concerned about getting back on court or just getting my health back under me. I think there was a balance to be struck there. It took me a little while to figure out, Okay, I need to take care of myself as a person first, then as an athlete.
“I think that was one of the biggest challenges for me.”
“I think I’ve always known that I’m a fighter,” Gibbs said. “But to be through the journey I’ve been through over the past few months, to land myself on Armstrong playing against one of the best in the game, and going the distance, I think that really just reinforces it for me.”
“I’m going to take a lot of inspiration from this, try to carry it forward into what’s left in my year and my tennis career.”
Karen Pestaina at the US Open