The inspiring and beautiful story of Petra Kvitova’s comeback from knife attack

“The injury is severe and I will need to see specialists, but if you know anything about me I am strong and I will fight this”. 

Petra Kvitova had a strong mentality and character, that was known for years, demonstrated by her ability to overcome the odds and fight against players with tenfold more experience than her, but even the most optimistic tennis fan would have thought Kvitova’s injury was the end. 

In December 2016, the two-time Wimbledon champion was hospitalised and in surgery for several hours after being attacked by a knife-wielding intruder into her home in Prostejov, Czech Republic. 

Graphic images surfaced this week showing the extent of said injury. In short, Kvitova should not have returned. At the time of the injury her first thought was to ask whether she’d compete in Wimbledon ever again. The chances were extremely slim, she was given a 10% chance of ever playing professional tennis again. 

After four hours of surgery to repair the tendons, two nerves and injuries sustained to all five fingers in her left hand, she started her recovery, with optimism aplenty. 

Consider the grip of Kvitova: the most unseen element of her ever growing skill set – her game flows from control and precision. It would be similar to slicing the hand of a master craftsman in an industrial factory that makes everything by hand. 

The problem is in real life, there is no machinery alternative. There was no shortcut to recovery or success for Kvitova, she just had to power through and like the slogan of her sponsor suggests: Just Do It. 

If it wasn’t for the innate strength she developed on the court prior to the injury, she may have not even survived, for it were the power of self-defence that saw Kvitova fight back, and lacerate her hand, rather than any other part of the body getting damaged. 

Just like when she first burst upon the scene as a youngster, Kvitova seemed to pop up out of nowhere again. 

She emerged from nowhere in 2010 when she became the 2010 WTA Newcomer of the Year, before winning the 2011 Wimbledon Championships upsetting Maria Sharapova, while her Czech-born idol and icon, Martina Navratilova, watched on in applause in the stands.

Similar to Monica Seles, who showed fighting spirit to comeback from an on-court stabbing with a nine inch knife in 1993, Kvitova emerged again for a ‘second career’. 

For Seles, sadly her pre-injury form was never reproduced, despite the fact she did win the Australian Open on her comeback to the court. 

Kvitova looked to follow in the same footpath upon returning, with her 2017 being poor, seeing her drop to 29th in the world rankings. 

Yet her form was not dead and buried, with Kvitova making a true comeback in 2018, becoming the best player outside of the Slams, climbing to 7th in the world. 

Who knows what 2019 may hold for Kvitova, with it starting on a high. She may have been overwhelmed by the amazing Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open final, but thank God she has returned to the top. 

She has etched her name in the history of tennis, with a truly remarkable and inspiring story, the sort that makes many fall in love with sport. 

From the first question upon injury being ‘Will I play Wimbledon again?’ to surely entering Wimbledon as one of the favourites, Petra Kvitova’s story is beautiful, and from nearly closing the book on her career prematurely, she certainly has a few chapters to offer yet. 

Author: Lewis Steele

Writes about anything from the niche world of football in Tehran to the classic piece on Pep Guardiola's tactics. Follow me on Twitter @LewisSteele_

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