It was a victorious day for Petra Kvitova at the Miami Open on Saturday.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova guaranteed her return to the top 10 in the WTA rankings after seeing off the in-form Elena Rybakina, winning an epic opening set tie-break 16-14 and sealing the victory by wrapping up the second set 6-2.
Kvitova was last in the top 10 in September 2021, yet her victories on the court were almost torn away back in 2016 when an attacker broke into her home and stabbed her, leaving her with hand injuries that could have ended her career.
The road to recovery was long, painful and mentally draining, but her latest title confirmed she still has a lot to offer at the age of 33.
“Between the attack and my comeback, there were definitely a few moments when it felt nearly impossible to think about playing at the top again,” Kvitova recalls.
“I remember a time when people told me I would never play tennis again. That was tough because it made me realise how much I wanted tennis in my life.
“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.
“Then 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.
Still hugging it ❤️ pic.twitter.com/PASyaeqeJ0
— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) April 2, 2023
“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.
“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.
“If I could send a message to my 21-year-old self it would be to just not take everything so seriously; to enjoy tennis and not get stressed when things don’t seem to be going the right way.
“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 away from tennis.”
Kvitova’s charming temperament and honesty in her interviews have singled her out as one of the most popular characters on the WTA Tour, with her win in Miami coming shortly after she admitted to trimming back her practice schedule
“If I’m practicing a lot, I just get tired of tennis and then when I’m in a match, I’m not enjoying the tennis as much,” she told reporters in Miami. “So, I need some time off actually, not to play every day or be on the court for so many hours.
“Of course during my career I have put a lot of work in and when I did that, I was totally empty and couldn’t perform in a match.
“Practicing less works for me now and overall, I would say my whole career has been a dream. “When I was a kid and playing tennis just for fun with my father, I couldn’t imagine having a career like this, winning two Wimbledon titles, along with so many others.
“I should be proud of myself of course, but when you’re still playing, you don’t really realise how much you’ve done.
“It’s amazing that this is my 13th Miami Open, it feels like yesterday I played my first. It’s amazing. I’m just very happy that I can still compete with the best and be at the highest level.”
At a time when the WTA Tour is searching for new stars, the revival of one of their most decorated ‘old guards’ is welcome.
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