Tennis: Knife victim Kvitova makes winning Wimbledon comeback

Kvitova reacts after winning against Sweden's Johanna Larsson.
Kvitova reacts after winning against Sweden's Johanna Larsson.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) – Two-time champion Petra Kvitova made a victorious return to Wimbledon on Monday (July 3) after the knife attack that threatened to end her career.

In December, she suffered severe injuries to her left playing hand while fighting off a knife-wielding burglar at her home in a terrifying assault.

The world number 12 had a relatively tough first round opponent in Sweden’s Johanna Larsson, ranked number 53.

But the Czech number two triumphed 6-3, 6-4 in a match on Centre Court watched by Prince William’s wife Kate, the patron of the All England Club and a sympathetic crowd.

“I felt the energy from the crowd and it was amazing to be back here at Wimbledon and playing on the beautiful Centre Court. It’s the favourite court of my career,” Kvitova said.

“It was my motivation to come back and play in Wimbledon. I’m very happy that the dream came true and I was able to play here again.

“I was a bit tight, I was nervous before and I started really badly with my serve and I need to improve it for sure, and my ground strokes.” It was only Kvitova’s eighth match back after six months out recovering from her knife wounds.

Kvitova went out in the second round at the French Open in May in her comeback tournament but went on to win Birmingham, one of the Wimbledon warm-up events.

She was due to play at Eastbourne last week but pulled out with an abdominal injury.

“I feel no pain, which is good, but of course I missed a few days of practicing,” Kvitova said after Monday’s win.

“I hope with matches and practice it will be better and better.”

Larsson, who went into the contest having lost all six of her previous matches at the All England Club, put up more of a fight in the second set but Kvitova broke serve at a crucial time for a 5-4 lead before serving for victory.

Kvitova, 27, won the 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon titles in her only Grand Slam finals appearances.

The former world number two will play either Madison Brengle of the United States or Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands in the second round on Wednesday.