Petra Kvitova: No Laughing Matter

Where do you start when writing about Petra Kvitova – her tennis results, her personality or her beaming face after a win? There are so many great attributes about this 22 year-old from the beautiful Czech Republic, but I 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’s like a giggle and her face lights up and you can’t help but like her even more.
You can get two versions 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. 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 a phenomenal player and the second half of the 2011 tennis season made that abundantly clear. When Wimbledon began, not too many would have placed her among the tournament favorites even though she had reached the semi-finals the year before. However, playing the perfect match against the favorite 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 it 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.

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?”

“I’m playing Fed Cup, so maybe after,” she said laughing, optimizing the blonde-locks-being-tossed-back option.

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.

Fast forward to 2012. In January she was only a couple of wins away from being ranked World No. 1, but after the Australian Open she began to have a few injury woes, in particular with her shoulder Because of that, she was unfortunately robbed of a few opportunities. But Kvitova wasn’t going to allow that to keep her down and she worked her way through her issues, and just couple weeks ago captured a title at Montreal.

Overall, what really shines through Petra is how grounded she is. She makes no excuses. Despite the fact that she suffers from asthma, she would never cite that as a reason for a loss.

She understands that with the wins come losses. 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 to create a high-profile athlete with a human touch and someone who truly appreciates the gifts that have been bestowed upon her.

By Craig Gabriel

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