Where do you start when writing about Petra Kvitova? Maybe her tennis results or what about her personality but then you would also certainly prioritise her beaming face after a win. There are so many great...
Where do you start when writing about Petra Kvitova? Maybe her tennis results or what about her personality but then you would also certainly prioritise her beaming face after a win. There are so many great attributes about this 22 year old from the beautiful Czech Republic but we think we should start with her laugh. One normally uses the term “infectious” in a negative sense but with Petra Kvitova it can only be a positive term with regards to her laugh. When she starts you just want to laugh with her; as I said it’s infectious because it is just so delightful. It is like a giggle and her face lights up and you can’t help but like her even more. You can get two version of her laughing. There is one when she half covers her mouth and tilts her head with an element of shyness and then there is the one when she sort of tosses back those beautiful golden locks of hers and enjoys herself. Petra Kvitova is an absolute joy. Even when she is asked to do an activity that maybe she doesn’t want to do and turns it down, she does it such a sweet way that you can’t really get annoyed with her. In all my years following the tennis tour, and there have been many, only three other Grand Slam winners have had that effect – Stefan Edberg, Pat Rafter and Kim Clijsters. The left hander is some player and the second half for the 2011 tennis a season made that abundantly clear. When Wimbledon began not too many would have placed her among the tournament favourites even though she had reached the semi-finals the year before. However, playing the perfect match against the favourite Maria Sharapova in the final, Petra became the first Czech to claim the coveted crown since Jana Novotna in 1998 and the first left handed woman to do so since Czech born Martina Navratilova in 1990. In the immediate aftermath of that glorious win Petra went through a let-down phase. It is not something uncommon when you are not used to winning a Grand Slam title. It happened to Li Na after she won the French Open last year and same with Samantha Stosur after she claimed the US Open in 2011. However Petra shook herself out of that phase a bit quicker than the others. She won the title in Linz, Austria and then closed out the regular season by capturing the coveted year-end crown, the WTA Championships in Istanbul in her first appearance at the event. A week later in chilly Moscow she was leading the Czech Republic to victory against the home team in the final of the Fed Cup – the biggest annual team competition for women. The Czechs had not won that event since 1988. Petra had also taken her world ranking up to No.2. It was a season to remember. After she defeated Victoria Azarenka for the title in Istanbul she was asked: “Now, maybe, can you say that you’re the player of the year?” Guess what immediately came to the forefront as she started to answer? The laugh. “I'm playing Fed Cup, so maybe after. No, but I mean after the tournament, okay, I can say it,” she said laughing, optimising the blonde-locks-being-tossed-back option. “When I start the season I was 34, and I didn't expect that I will be sitting here as champion and I have Grand Slam already. So, I mean, really it's unbelievable. It's really a big step for me, so, I mean, it's tough to say what I improved everything, so it's really hard to say only one big point. But, I mean, it was really everything. It's important that I'm healthy, but it's great, for sure, and this is the important thing.” Last January she was barely a couple of wins away from being ranked world No.1. She was already just the fifth Czech woman to be ranked in the top five but after the Australian Open she began to have a few injury woes, in particular with her shoulder and because of that she was robbed of a few opportunities. But Kvitova wasn’t going to allow that to keep her down and she worked her way through the issues. Overall with Petra what really shines through is how grounded she is. She makes no excuses; like she wouldn’t say “oh because I suffer with asthma I lost that match in those conditions” or anything like that. She takes the losses with the wins and one of the people who can take credit for that sort of attitude is her coach David Kotzya who removes her from the tennis sites and helps her to appreciate things around her like museums and art galleries. It is all part of the learning and developmental process of creating a high profile athlete with a human touch and someone who truly appreciates the gifts they have been bestowed with. She came into the US Open feeling pretty good about her tennis having won two titles in three weeks and ended up clinching the US Open Series which, if she wins the US Open, allows her to bank a million dollar bonus. And that’s no laughing matter but for Petra it would be quite hysterical.