Petra Kvitova exclusive: Grand Slams are still the biggest motivation

Petra Kvitova exclusive: Grand Slams are still the biggest motivation
Petra Kvitova signing an autograph at Livesport's offices
Petra Kvitova signing an autograph at Livesport's offices
Two Wimbledon championships, a Masters Tournament title, six Fed Cup trophies and an Olympic bronze medal. Those are just a few of many achievements of Czech tennis star Petra Kvitova (32), The former world number two spoke to Flashscore News about the past season, Federer, her dance with Djokovic and her plans for the future. "We'll see what time brings," says the Czech player with a smile on her face.

Kvitova visited the headquarters of Livesport, Flashscore's parent company, last Friday during the weekly Smart Friday event and answered questions from the audience.

You finished the season as the best Czech player at 16th place in the WTA rankings and you also won your 29th career title. How would you evaluate your tennis year 2022?
"After everything that has been happening to me since the beginning of the year, when I was injured, my game was not going well at all and I was even getting a little bit tired of everything, I ended up feeling very positive. I'm glad I'm back from that and I'm playing, playing and playing again. The season didn't go well for us Czechs in general, but on the other hand we have a lot of young players. However, my season was successful and the title I won on grass was the icing on the cake."

How do you spend your free time now, since your season is over?
"After the last match I flew out for a vacation that lasted exactly four days. I mainly wanted to go home because we are always away and I miss home probably the most. Especially my parents and brothers who have kids and I'm such an auntie. I'm flying to Monaco with one of my nieces tonight (Friday) for a few days, I'll be taking care, showing places... That's about it, next week, November 14th, the preparation for the new season starts. It goes by so fast."

Do you miss sport at the moment? 
"Now I have to start doing something again, so that the practice is not too painful. But it will be anyway, so it doesn't matter. But I don't do anything for those two or three weeks. I'm enjoying not having to do anything. Yesterday (Thursday) I was a passive spectator at Slavia Prague."

Petra Kvitová with Liversport's owner Martin Hájek (right) and marketing director Jan Hortík

You travel a lot throughout the year, do you have any tips for making the long moments on the road more enjoyable?
"I'm on the road for probably more than half the year. I've been suffering on planes for the last two years. I'm getting scared and it's not doing me any good. I would say it's probably age. I like to read or watch soap operas and movies. But honestly, I don't really enjoy it. I try to sleep, that's the best. But I'm not very good at that either. Longer flights are more demanding in every way."

You've gone from an ordinary girl to a global celebrity. You started playing on the gym floor with your dad... What was the hardest change for you?
"I've always played at home in a small town of six thousand people and was usually about fifth in the country. It wasn't until I was 15 or 16 that I took off and was the best in the country at my age. That's when Prostejov wanted me to transfer. After a while I learned that my mother had to intervene and said I had to go. I was scared, I was just at home until then, playing tennis just for fun. Suddenly I imagined having to go to fitness classes, to gymnastics. It was hard for me to imagine going to a bigger city where there would be more people, more tennis players... I didn't have any ambition to be a professional tennis player at that time. I didn't realise that until after a few months in Prostejov. I was most afraid of the jump to the big tennis world."

When did you start to realize you were growing into a star? In 2007 you played your first WTA tournament and by 2011 you had already won Wimbledon...
"It was a shock especially for my English because I didn't speak it very well. I had to get a tutor. It was quite fast, mainly because when I started at the professional level, I won my first tournaments right away. The jumps were big, I started to realize it the most in about 2010 when I was in the semifinals of Wimbledon. But then Tomas Berdych was in the final, so I was starting to be known, but Tomas was still Tomas. He's still unreal... I won Wimbledon a year later, so that was like two big jumps. Semi-finals and winning is a huge difference. It's not for nothing they say that history only remembers the winners. Everyone told me how everything would change, how I would have to change. But I always said no, I don't want to. But when I won Wimbledon at the age of twenty-one, I think I spent two or three years wondering where I belonged and who I was because I didn't think I really belonged in this world. I'm different than what the fans get to see on TV. But it just kind of happened."

Approximately how many rackets do you use a year?
"I don't break them (laughs). I've done the math in my head now, I have 24 for the year, with me changing a set of six four times a year. I hope I did the math right. I start with one set and then I always change them to clay, to grass and back to concrete. Somehow it always works out, mostly just to change the surface. But they're still the same type."

Do you have stronger memories from Wimbledon of winning the titles or of being engaged?
"You can't even compare that. The engagement was completely unexpected, I don't really know what happened. I don't really remember it, how shocked I was. It was really quick, but of course beautiful. Winning Wimbledon is a tennis achievement, this is a life achievement. It doesn't really compare."

You opened your own hall of fame in your hometown of Fulnek at the end of July, what's the feedback from fans about it?
"It's kind of small, but it's very nice and cosy. It kind of fits Fulnek. Of course there are trophies from Wimbledon and all the other tournaments. But there are also earrings from the first Fed Cup final, with a lion in our national colours. All the girls got it as a present from a friend of mine. There are also trophies for fair play, which are decided by the votes of the other tennis players."

You have won the Karen Krantzcke Award, the sportsmanship award on the WTA circuit, eight times. Is that valuable to you? Especially when it's awarded by your rivals...
"I have to say I've been very surprised every year. It's very nice. We're together all the time, every day, every week, we're such a tennis family. We see each other all the time and I find it sad when somebody doesn't have a perfect relationship with each other. And of course that happens. It's harder for women in that respect and not only in tennis."

Has women's tennis changed in any way in the time you've been involved?
"I would say yes. When I started on the tour, it was very aggressive and mentally challenging. Now it's more physical, there are longer rallies, the balls are slower, the surfaces are also slower."

And how do you look at the possible modernization of tennis? Shorter sets, games with no advantages...
"I'm quite conservative about this. I don't really like it. In doubles I don't mind it so much, at least you know there are two sets and then it's almost over unless you play a super tie break. It seems to me that these changes are more beneficial to the weaker players in a match, because they can turn the match around more easily. At least that's how I see it in doubles, where you don't know who will win."

Roger Federer recently said goodbye to his tennis career, do you have any personal memories of him?
"Both times I won Wimbledon, Djokovic won it. The last memory I have of Roger is from the Wimbledon Centre Court centenary celebrations. Roger flew in for the ceremony and as we all waited outside the Centre Court gates we chatted. And he was just chatting to me, totally cool (laughs). He was great. I personally like Roger and Rafa Nadal very much because they are polite, they always say hello, they smile, they are human."

What kind of a dancer is Djokovic? The winners, in Wimbledon tradition, open the champions' ball by dancing together...
"Luckily we didn't dance (laughs). It worked out very well for me because dancing and me is a bad combination. You'll probably never see me in Dancind with the Stars. Otherwise, Novak has always been very nice, but because it's on a Sunday when they play, he was late. There was always a wait for him, and it was so fast. But luckily we didn't dance, that tradition was abandoned earlier."

What happens between leaving Centre Court as a winner and arriving on the famous balcony?
"I honestly don't remember much because it was a huge shock. The first time I won, I didn't know what was going on at all. After that ceremony, you walk around the whole Centre Court and the trophy is shown to people in the audience as well. Then you leave the court and go around a board where you take a picture with your own name. This is followed by the members' corridor, which apparently only club members are allowed to enter. I remember this one very well, because right at the beginning of it were Martina Navrátilová and Jana Novotná, who congratulated me on the title. That was very nice. Then you go to the balcony where the trophy is shown."

How do you find motivation for the new season?
"Motivation is still there, so it's still good in that respect. The biggest motivation is obviously the Grand Slam. But at the same time I know how challenging it is. Lately, I've been telling myself that I want to stay healthy. The older I get, the more I feel my body and the more I am aware of it."

What about non-tennis goals?
"We'll see what time brings (laughs)."


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