LONDON – Czech tennis star Petra Kvitova says a year on from being the victim of a horrific knife attack she can look to the future positively having successfully returned to the WTA circuit.
The 27-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion defied expectations in returning to competition despite suffering serious wounds to her playing left hand as she fought off a knife-wielding intruder at her home in the eastern Czech town of Prostejov in December 2016.
However, within months she had not only made a comeback but also won a title – the pre-Wimbledon tune-up event in Birmingham – and rounded off the Grand Slams with a quarter-final appearance in the US Open.
"Playing on the grass at Wimbledon (where she reached the second round) and getting a good result in the US Open was very important for me mentally, and for my confidence," Kvitova told The Guardian newspaper.
"This year has been a rollercoaster. The beginning wasn't very nice, so I'm really glad that it's over. Now I can look at everything positively again."
Kvitova – who reached a career high ranking of second in the world in December 2011 – says she shrugged aside fears she would never play again.
"I did hear the rumours that I would never ever play again but I thought: 'I will show them'," said Kvitova, who has been playing since she was four.
"I was like: 'Why are they saying this?' It was very painful for me, it felt like they didn't believe me.
"The week after surgery I asked my doctor: 'Do you think I could play in Wimbledon this year?' He didn't answer for a while and then he said: 'We are going to work on it and blah, blah, blah.' I understood then that it wasn't going to be easy."
Kvitova, who has 20 titles to her credit, admits her hand is still not what it was.
"It will probably take more than a year to get full movement back, I'm not sure," said Kvitova, who is presently ranked 29 in the world.
"For tennis and for life, it's good.
"I am happy that (throughout the recovery) I was always looking forward to the better tomorrows."
Kvitova, who was told last month police had shelved the investigation as they had hit a dead end in identifying her assailant, says she has grown to love her 'new hand'.
"I have started to live with my new hand," said Kvitova, who will kick off 2018 in the WTA tournament in Brisbane, Australia.
"I've started to try to like it, to love it and that's how I am going to take it. It's my hand and I am just happy that I have all of my fingers."