Ryan Peniston described his childhood battle with cancer as “a blessing in disguise” on Tuesday as he marked his Grand Slam debut by reaching the Wimbledon second round.
The 26-year-old Briton defeated Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in a rock-solid performance.
Peniston overcame cancer at the age of two and underwent gruelling chemotherapy and surgery.
“It made me definitely tougher as a player and a person I think. It’s a blessing in disguise really,” said Peniston, the world number 135.
“It definitely affected my growth. I was a really late bloomer. I didn’t start growing until 15, 16,” he said.
“I was always about a foot smaller than all my peers. They all were growing and getting bigger serves and everything. I was struggling just trying to run around and get the balls.”
Now standing at six feet tall (1.83 metres) with a muscular frame, Peniston is thriving in his late-developing career.
His struggles are in the past now for a man who arrived at Wimbledon having made four successive grass-court quarter-finals.
At the Queen’s Club lead-up event, he knocked out French Open runner-up Casper Ruud, currently ranked sixth in the world, in the first round.
“For this to happen is just is crazy for me,” he said.
“When I was younger, like a teenager, you always have people ask, ‘You play tennis. I’ll see you at Wimbledon one day.’ I’d always say, ‘Yeah, yeah, hopefully, hopefully.’ Yeah, now to just say it’s happened is unbelievable.”