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. 

Majestic Djokovic re-opens GOAT debate following Australian Open triumph

A few decades in the distant future, BBC will be broadcasting the Wimbledon finals but due to an injury leading to retirement, they have half an hour of air time to fill. These are the moments us at home love – nothing is happening, but we cannot turn off the television, we want to see how the pundits can fill their time. Usually, the punditry team turn to some sort of debate or highlights reel of a past tournament. That debate may be: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic – who was the greatest?

A youthful child, enjoying his first experiences of watching tennis, will turn to his parents and ask who this trio were. At this moment, the eyes light up and the parent will begin to explain the joyful talents of each of the trio. A bit similar to now when you may ask about a Diego Maradona or Pelé of yesteryear.

Like debates in other sports, this one was ruled down to two with Nadal and Federer seemingly fight it out for the tagline ‘GOAT’ – greatest of all time.

Despite this, Novak Djokovic’s most recent triumph has reopened the argument to a three-way triple threat contest.

The Serbian’s 15th Grand Slam triumph in Australia saw him move to within two major titles of Nadal. Djokovic ruthlessly dispatched of the Spaniard 6-3 6-2 6-2 on Sunday morning.

He now heads to Roland Garros targeting a fourth straight Grand Slam title, which would give Djokovic a second Non-Calendar Year Grand Slam, having last held all titles in 2015/2016.

There is no doubt that right now, Djokovic is the best player in the world, and he is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. He hinted on Sunday night that thoughts of retirement can be put on hold for a few years yet.

What should have been the match of the tournament, or even of the year – despite young – failed to live up to expectations. It looked like the battle of two mighty heavyweights, both fit and fresh in form, but turned into the equivalent of a fight between a heavyweight and an injured featherweight.

Their contests have spread over a 13-year-period, but this match at the Rod Laver Arena was the most dominant and one-sided of them all.

Former champion Mats Wilander described the performance as “absolute perfection”, with Pat Cash using the phrase “absolutely mind-blowing tennis”.

They were right.

Just one year ago, Djokovic’s career was in doubt, with elbow surgery leading to problems on and off the court.

Now, the question turns to whether Djokovic (15-time champion) can finish his career with more Grand Slam titles than Rafael Nadal (17-time champion) and Roger Federer (20-time champion).

Exactly 50 years ago, Rod Laver became the first and only man in the Open Era to sweep all four Opens, and now Djokovic, has his eyes on that feat, although it is a huge ask.

Whatever happens this year, the debate over who is better will remain. My take is similar to a popular spin on Messi-Ronaldo: stop debating who is better, just sit back and enjoy all three while we still can. This is a golden era of tennis.