Kvitova’s special memories of Philippe Chatrier | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 07, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:42 AM, October 07, 2020

Kvitova’s special memories of Philippe Chatrier

The French Open holds special memories for Petra Kvitova, not because she has won the title but because it is where she resumed her career after a knife attack that almost ended it.

Kvitova held back tears when closing out for victory in the French Open on Monday as memories of her return to tennis in 2017 after a knife attack came to the fore.

Kvitova was sidelined for six months after an attack by a burglar at her home in the Czech Republic just before Christmas in 2016 that left her with severe damage to the nerves and tendons in her left hand.

She was 26 when the events - described as a burglary - happened in Prostejov and during a struggle, she suffered severe lacerations to all four fingers on her left hand - her playing hand - and had surgery.

Her surgeon had even said the chances of a return to tennis were low.

As a prodigy, then a champion, she had lived with the weight of her talent but, six years after leaving Wimbledon with the first of her two singles titles there, and just five and a half months since surviving a horrific knife attack in her home in Prostejov, the 27-year-old Czech was basking in the Parisian sun in 2017 as if she was reborn.

And that's why she admitted her victory over China's Zhang Shuai on Monday to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in eight years was extra special.

"I got a bit emotional the last two points of my match," the 30-year-old told reporters. "I really had to start thinking still about the match because in tennis we really never know when it's end. But my memories, happy memories, when I made my comeback here 2017, when I step on the Philippe Chatrier Court, I couldn't really imagine me to be in the quarterfinals.

"Everything just came back to me. It's been a long ride definitely. I did miss definitely the court, I did miss the fight. Now I can just enjoy everything, even the beautiful weather outside. I see different kind of things than before," Kvitova had said after confirming her place in the draw of 2017 French Open.

Almost four years after that attack, Kvitova may never have a better opportunity to add a third Grand Slam to her tally even if she is not known as a natural claycourter. She is yet to drop a set in four rounds in Paris and faces unseeded German Laura Siegemund for a place in only her second French Open semi-final.

With so many of the top seeds having already departed, Kvitova is the biggest name left in the draw.

"I think it was a miracle for me to make the semi-final here in Roland Garros," she said. "After eight years to be in the quarter-final again, it's great. I'm really happy for that, that I'm still able to play on all surfaces," she added.


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