After her quarter-finals win over home favorite Ashleigh Barty at the 2019 Australian Open, Kvitova’s face radiated hustle, pursuit and joy all together. The Czech No.1 was later asked by Jim Courier during the on-court interviewer whether she had ever imagined to get back at this stage after what she had gone through in the past 2-3 years. A teary eyed Kvitova responded mildly with a cracked voice, “No.”
This is the first time since 2014 Wimbledon when Kvitova sees herself in the final four stage at a slam. What Jim Courier referred to was the unfortunate incident that happened with Kvitova, which drew similarities with the stabbing incident of Monica Seles back in 1993.
In 2016, Kvitova had clinched the Elite trophy title. She was seated at No.11 in the world; a whisker away from breaking back into the Top 10. A couple of months later, peril struck at Kvitova’s flat located in Prostejov. Little did the Czech star know, that the man who was about to ring the doorbell would change her tennis career forever.
Roman Zondra was a lunatic astray. At 8.30 in the morning he came at the doorstep of Kvitova’s residence. Zondra told Kvitova that he had to do a check on the hot water in her apartment. Now Kvitova knew that that property manager had informed her regarding some check that was required on the water meter. In order to cross-verify with him, Kvitova sent a SMS to him regarding the technician’s arrival but was somehow unable to contact him. Zondra quickly paced himself inside the house. Kvitova walked alongside him towards the bathroom. He told her to let go the hot water from the tap. When Kvitova got engrossed in this process, Zondra drew a 20 cms long knife and pushed it inside Kvitova’s neck.
Groaning in pain, Kvitova, a southpaw tennis player, used her left hand in order to force the knife out of her neck. The sharp blades of the knife brushed her fingers and Kvitova damaged seven tendons of her left palm. Petrified and nauseatic, Kvitova dropped down to her knees. The Czech recalls that when she fell down she knew Zondra was saying something but could not recall it because she was in a shock.
Seconds later, Kvitova gathered all her will to stand up on both her legs. She begged to the attacker that she needs to be rushed at the hospital. However, Zondra kept on yelling that he “needed time.” For what he needed time, still perplexes many.
According to Kvitova, Zondra posed as a man who had no clue what he was doing. All he did was simply block Kvitova’s way out of the apartment. She asked Zondra whether he needed money. The madman replied in the affirmative and demanded all the money that she had in cash. Kvitova said she had around 400 Euros in her purse. Zondra took the money and left he building. Once he left, Kvitova quickly called for help.
Dr. Radek Kebrle was scared when he came to know about Kvitova’s injury. According to him Kvitova’s palm was cut through by the knife in the region known as no-man’s land. This anatomical region is considered as one of the worst possible regions to get an injury at. Kebrle reached the Prostejov hospital immediately.
“If you are injured by one tendon, you have a 5% chance that complications may occur during convalescence and tbat tendon bursts. She had cut seven tendons, so there is a cumulative chance of 25% that one of the tendons will not work. So it means that if it won’t be okay, it will be end with tennis.”
-Dr. Radek Kebrle on the Czech show, ‘Show Jan Kraus’
Fortunately, Kvitova’s surgery was successful. Three days hence, she said,
“Yesterday morning, during a session with the doctor, I was able to move the fingers on my left hand. This to me is the greatest Christmas present I could have wished for.”
Kvitova had undergone further rehabilitation at the Institute of Hand Surgery at Vysoke nad Jizerou.
Kvitova had hired the most elite lawyer for her case. There was no trace of Zondra for the next twelve months. It was nearly eighteen months after the attack that Zondra was finally in police custody. Just around the same time when Zondra was arrested, Kvitova had made her comeback at the Roland Garros in 2017.
“It’s great news for me to hear that. It’s great that they have him in custody. But probably the happiest I will be is when the story will end, when everything will be done and finished.” -Kvitova after learning about Zondra’s arrest
Zondra is 54 years old and a drug addict. He had been in jail from 2010 to 2014. Landing himself in trouble yet again, Zondra now faces upto twelve years of prison time.
As for Petra, she fought through all her adversities. She did not hit the courts for months together. During this phase she took up some course at a university, trying to distract herself from the mortified scenario she had been a victim to. She even hired a new coach. When she held the racquet yet again, Kvitova began to train her new hand yet again. She coped up with her renovated upper limb quicker than she thought. A first round victory at Roland Garros against Julia Boserup gave her a huge relief and unparalleled bliss.
Despite the fact that she was ousted in the second round, Kvitova only grew stronger. She entered the Birmingham tournament and won the title. At the Flushing Meadows, she ended up being one of the quarter-finalists.
Before the start of the 2018 season, Kvitova had managed to climb the ladder to break back into the Top 30 rankings. She had a roaring start to the season, winning the title at St. Petersburg. She added the trophies of Doha, Madrid, Prague and Birmingham in her cabinet to be the player with most titles in 2018. The Czech had broke back within the Top 10 rankings.
Kvitova had another strong start to the season in 2019. In her warm-up events for the Australian Open, she won her second title at Sydney. At Melbourne, Kvitova now faces Danielle Collins in the semis. The Czech had defeated Collins a couple of weeks back at Brisbane in three sets. If she is able to replicate her success against Collins yet again, Kvitova will find herself a win away from winning her third grand slam title. Additionally, she will also usurp to the position of the World No.1 player in the rankings.
A two-time Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova’s journey from being stabbed at breakfast hours to being on the cusp of securing the World No.1 position is a tale of of the most elite echelons of perseverance.