Petra Kvitova: 'People told me that I would never ever play tennis again' - Players' Voice
Petra Kvitova recently turned 31 - 10 years after she won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. Since then, she has gone on to repeat that exact same feat, soar to No.2 in the world rankings and become an Olympic bronze medallist. She sits only behind the Williams sisters and Kim Clijsters on the WTA’s list of most career titles won.
In the latest edition of Players' Voice, Czech star Petra Kvitova reflects on the highs and lows of her past decade.
By capturing her 28th crown at the Qatar Open last month, she is showing no signs of slowing down. However, her career hasn’t been without challenges, and very nearly ended prematurely after a knife attack at her home in 2016 left severe damage to ligaments and tendons in her left playing hand.
Yet four hours of surgery and five months of recovery later, Kvitova bounced back and reminded the tennis world of the insurmountable force she is.
Winning my first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2011 was unbelievable. I was pretty young to achieve something that big and I remember at the time not really knowing what it actually meant. I was very happy but also a little confused as I just couldn’t really believe what had just happened.
Petra Kvitova defeats Maria Sharapova in straight sets to win Wimbledon for the first time
Image credit: Getty Images
And then when I won my second title there three years later, it felt even deeper for me. I probably enjoyed that one more than my first because I was just that little bit older and slightly more mature.
That time round, I knew what to expect and I was the favourite, which changed things. I remember feeling very proud of myself to lift that trophy again so it was really special.
If I were to hold a third Grand Slam trophy in my hands now, it would be like a dream and that’s one of the main reasons why I’m still playing tennis, but I know how tough it is to do. Ten years on from the first, I’m just very glad that tennis is still my love.
I still really enjoy playing and that’s probably my main motivation. For me, that is the most important thing, but if that enjoyment leads to some great results, I will happily take them!
I have been through so many things in my life and the last 10 years have taught me so much, like to never take tennis for granted and to simply embrace life, so I feel that now I am able to appreciate many of the smaller things a lot more.
There was a time when people told me that I would never ever play tennis again.
Between the attack and my comeback, there were definitely a few moments when it felt nearly impossible.
I remember there was a time when people told me that I would never ever play tennis again and my immediate response was simply: 'I want to play and I will just show that I can play again.' That initial reaction was a big turning point for me because it made me realise how much I wanted tennis in my life.
Even the bad things can lead to the good, and that’s how I’m trying to see everything; even if there’s a negative, I will try and find the positive.
When I first returned to compete, my on-court mentality wasn’t quite the same - probably because when the attack happened I wasn’t thinking that seriously about tennis; the first priority was life itself and getting better.
But when I started to play again and see that I could compete with the best out there, it didn’t take long to adjust and reach a similar mindset to the one I had before.
Petra Kvitova battles past Ashleigh Barty in Birmingham to complete fairytale comeback six months after knife attack
Image credit: Getty Images
With everything that has happened, both on and off the court, if I could send a message to my 21-year-old self it would be to just not take everything so seriously; to enjoy more of the tennis and what life has to offer and to not get stressed when things don’t seem to be going the right way.
If the last 10 years are anything to go by, then a lot can truly happen. Looking ahead to the next decade, I don’t think I will still be playing tennis, but I would love to have some kids and a normal life for sure. We shall see!