Petra Kvitova makes winning return at French Open after knife attack
Just five months after she was stabbed during an attempted burglary at her home, Petra Kvitova made an impressive return to action as the Czech eased into the French Open second round Sunday.
As if she had never been away, the two-time Wimbledon champion needed only 74 minutes to beat American Julia Boserup 6-3, 6-2 in her first match since the December attack at her home in the Czech town of Prostejov.
Any nerves Kvitova — a French Open semi-finalist in 2012 — might have had were quickly forgotten as the 15th seed hit an impressive forehand to win the match’s opening point.
“It’s a pleasure to be here, I’m really glad to have made the decision that I’m going to play here,” said Kvitova afterwards.
“Thank you for everything, you helped me through this difficult time,” added Kvitova, who will face either Bethanie Mattek-Sands or Evgeniya Rodina in the second round.
“I’m glad with how I played today. There are a few things to improve but what can I expect after such a long time.”
Sunday’s matches delivered a major shock when world No. 1 Angelique Kerber was knocked out by Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2.
The German’s defeat ensured she became the first top seed in French Open history to lose in the opening round at Roland Garros.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova has been out of action since the December knife attack, which severely injured her left, playing hand.
Emergency surgery — almost four hours long — helped repair damage to the Czech’s tendons and nerves and she has been battling back to fitness ever since.
Kvitova’s surgeon, Doctor Radek Kebrle, said in a press release that the Czech had suffered a “horrific” injury.
The chances of her playing tennis again, he said, were “very low” for a “multiple of reasons.”
‘I see different kind of things than before’
Kvitova was at home in the city of Prostejov, about 160 miles east of the Czech capital Prague, when an intruder burst into her apartment at around 8:30am on the morning of December 20.
The 27-year-old was able to fend the attacker off, who then fled, and later said she was “shaken, but fortunate to be alive.”
She said on Friday her decision to compete in Paris was a “last-minute decision.”
“I missed the court, the fight. Now I can just enjoy everything — sometimes I just stand outside and see the sun and say ‘oh, it’s beautiful.’ I see different kind of things than before.”
The 19-time WTA Tour winner last played competitively In November, for the Czech Republic in a Fed Cup tie against France. She was knocked out of the 2016 French Open in round three by America’s Shelby Rogers.
Both her major titles came on grass at Wimbledon, in 2011 and 2014, and she reached a career-high ranking of world number two in October 2011.