Every week Baseline will select a “Player of the Week.” That athlete may not always win the highest category tournament that week, but perform the best compared to their recent playing history.
Petra Kvitova’s life changed forever on December 20 when she was attacked by a knife-wielding man in her Czech Republic apartment. She suffered serious injuries to her left hand that required immediate and lengthy surgery.
“The injury was horrific,” Kvitova’s surgeon, Radek Kebrle, wrote in a statement before the French Open. “The chances of Petra’s hand healing well enough for her to be able to play tennis again were very low.”
Dr. Kebrle wrote that, “a realistic timeline for a return to tennis was six months after the attack." Yet just over five months later, Kvitova returned to competition at Roland Garros, where she won a round at the French Open.
Simply getting back on the tennis court was a victory in itself for Kvitova. But in her second tournament back last week, the two-time Wimbledon champion won Birmingham with a comeback 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Ashleigh Barty.
“It was nice to lose the first set, and that I had to fight for the second and for the third," Kvitova said. "I think (it) will give me some extra confidence that I am still able to fight."
Kvitova’s first set loss in the final against Barty was the only set that the No. 7 seed dropped all week in making her way through a field that included nine Top 25 players.
A semifinal kind of smile ???? pic.twitter.com/R9UyAXLw3D— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) June 23, 2017
Almost everything went Kvitova’s way in the tournament, including a return on match point during a tense second-set tiebreaker against world No. 13 Kristina Mladenovic in the quarterfinals.
While Wimbledon will only be Kvitova’s third tournament back and she just pulled out of Eastbourne with an abdominal injury, you have to put the two-time champion on the shortlist of favorites.
But what is most important of all is that Kvitova is back. Her surgeon indicated that there were plenty of risks that went with potential recovery from the attack (skin-healing complications, the possibility of infection, rupturing tendons and more) that could have ruined the Czech's career forever.
Yet here is Kvitova, just over six months later, holding a trophy again.
This victory is for my team and fans to say thank you for being with me in the tough times. We didn't know if I would play again let alone win a trophy so this is an extra special moment. And it is for all of us to share. I also wanted to say how much I enjoyed sharing the court with Ash and appreciated her kind words in the ceremony. Birmingham will forever have a special place in my heart. Love to everyone from a very tired Petra ♥️???? #teampetra #aegonclassic
“There was time when nobody ever know if I were able to play again, so I'm more appreciated about this time [on court],” Kvitova said after her first-round win in Birmingham. “Probably even if I lose, I will always smile and to be happy that I'm back.”
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