Petra Kvitova remembers the first time she had to put on a gown, make-up and heels, and head to a tennis function. It was the night after she won her first Wimbledon title in 2011 and she was off to attend the Champions’ Ball.
“Everything was new,” Kvitova told Sport360 ahead of her opening match at Wimbledon on Tuesday against Romanian Sorana Cirstea.
“And when I look at the picture from that day now, it’s just so different, I can’t really imagine that I was like that.
“That was kind of my first thing (tennis party) and that time I couldn’t really think about anything. They told me ‘okay you have to be there, blah, blah, blah’ and I said ‘okay’.”
“I was shy and nervous for sure.”
On a scale of 1-10, Kvitova says she considers herself a five in terms of how shy she generally feels off-court.
Yet she certainly seemed at ease fielding questions at the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party, dressed to the nines in a beautiful red gown, as she spoke about her chances of capturing a third title at the All England Club.
The Czech 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion has had a trying 2016, which saw her lose in the Australian Open second round, and French Open third round, with a quarter-final at Indian Wells and a semi-final in Stuttgart counting as her only highlights.
Kvitova parted ways with her long-time coach, David Kotyza, in January, which came as a surprise to many, and after spending some time alone, she hired former doubles specialist Frantisek Cermak in his place.
The 26-year-old briefly dropped outside the top-10 and is seeded 10 at SW19 this fortnight.
Having spent the majority of the past five years hovering around the top-five, did it feel weird having the number 11 next to her name in the past few weeks?
“It is different. I think I’m in a different situation than I was before. I changed a lot of things, I can’t say it was a bad thing, the future will show probably, but it is a different situation definitely but on the other side I think I shouldn’t feel that much pressure as I felt before which I think is a good thing for me for sure,” said Kvitova.
“Of course the seeds are different, because I can play someone really good earlier but I think that if I’m playing really well I don’t care who is on the other side. It’s just about the confidence right now I think.”
Kvitova has struggled with consistency and confidence in the past and this first half of the season has been a prime example of that. When she’s on, she can literally blow anyone off the court, including Serena Williams, but she has also experienced bizarre, almost inexplicable defeats.
Is being able to consistently perform well week in, week out, a main goal for Kvitova?
“I can’t really say goal… I think I’m trying to put some new things to my game, like I’m going serve-and-volley sometimes or go to the net more often or play more drop shots or slice,” she explains.
“I’m trying to put things in my game to add variety to it and I think it’s paying off so far, I just need time to put everything together to be in a great position but it’s always about time.
“Consistency of course it’s coming with that, with the confidence of winning matches and everything. I really want to improve my serve as I showed in Eastbourne (last week) as well and just play the aggressive game I had when I was younger.”
Kvitova was 21 when she won her first major and she needed an adjustment period after that breakthrough, to get accustomed to being in the spotlight and being a favourite.
“I think that I’m not as shy as I was. Probably when I was a child I didn’t know everything that was happening and I couldn’t really speak English as well as I do now so I think that everything is more relaxed for me, the press conferences, I know what to expect and everything,” she says.
“But still kind of on the outside, I will never be that kind of celebrity or whatever. I like to have my private life and be kind of like in the quiet place which I think will never change.
“If I could say something as a young girl, to me, I’d probably say that I shouldn’t really think that much about everything as I’m doing now.”
And is there something she wishes she could get back from her younger days on tour, she feels she is lacking at the moment?
“I feel probably a little bit of free brain. With the age you’re thinking more about everything which is something I didn’t too much when I was younger. So that’s kind of – not like freedom, but not taking everything too serious,” she adds with a laugh.
Kvitova’s preparation for Wimbledon saw her win one match in Birmingham, and one match in Eastbourne, before falling in the last 16 in both events. In Eastbourne last week, she had her right thigh taped.
“I feel a little better. It’s kind of tight, that’s how it always gets on grass after a few matches – actually from the first one I played, so the tape is there to protect it and of course I have to take care of it, not to make it worse,” she explained.
Kotzya, Kvitova’s ex-coach, now works with former world No1 Caroline Wozniacki, who spent the past several months injured before returning to action this grass season. Although she is yet to hit her best form since her split with Kotyza, Kvitova is certain she made the right calls.
“I just wanted to do something new, I just felt that I was kind of on the same way and I couldn’t do anything more, so that’s why I changed it, and I feel good now and I’m really happy with everything I did,” said Kvitova.
“I know how David is a great coach and a great person and we’re still very well connected even though he’s working with Caroline (Wozniacki) and I’m working with Frantisek (Cermak) but I just think that the relationship is still there. I just feel now a little bit that something new came to my game and to have motivation again and kind of like the passion which I was sometimes missing.”
And has it been weird seeing him part of the Wozniacki camp?
“I thought it would be but when I found out the news I said ‘okay, I know Caro, I know David, and they know each other as well and I really wish them the best,” she responds.
“I saw him in Birmingham and Eastbourne and everything was just fine. Of course it’s sometimes weird when I finish a match and Caroline was warming up with David, so it was a little bit weird but on the other side it’s good that he stayed in the game and he’s still doing what he loves.”
Petra Kvitova attended the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party presented by Dubai Duty Free at The Roof Gardens, Kensington
The 130th edition of Wimbledon kicks off at the All England Lawn Club in London on Monday, ushering in another hotly anticipated two weeks of the tournament.
The entire tennis fraternity will point towards London’s SW19 postcode as the whites, strawberry and cream, drilled movement of ball kids and the historic Royal Box take centre stage.
Here, Sport360 looks back at Wimbledon’s illustrious history, taking in all the numbers and stats from the men’s side of the most prestigious tournament in tennis’ history.
1877 – The first edition of The Championships is played on the outdoor grass-courts of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) in the Wimbledon suburb of London, UK. The gentlemen’s singles was the first, comprising of a field of 22 players. In an all British final, Spencer Gore defeated William Marshall (6-1, 6-2, 6-4) in a final that lasted only 48 minutes.
2009 – A Retractable roof was installed and activated during the 2009 Championships. Brit Andy Murray and Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis played out the latest finish at Wimbledon in 2012 under the roof, finishing up at 11:02PM BST.
Amateur Era – William Renshaw (1881–1886, 1889) holds the record for most titles in the amateur era with seven victories. Renshaw also holds the record for most consecutive titles with six from (1881 to 1886). It is the all-time record.
7 – American Great Pete Sampras (1993-95, 1997-00) and Swiss Legend Roger Federer (2003-07, 2009, 2012) are the most decorated Wimbledon champions in the Open-Era with seven titles each.
10 – Roger Federer holds the all-time record for the most appearances in Wimbledon finals (2003-2009, 2012, 2014-15). He owns a 7-3 record in SW19 finals.
7 – Consecutive Wimbledon finals for Roger Federer (2003-09), the all-time record.
84 – Matches won by Jimmy Connors (84-18), the most match wins at Wimbledon. Federer owns second place with 79 (79-10).
92.7% – Swedish Legend Bjorn Borg owns the best match winning % at Wimbledon (92.7%). Sampras (90%) and Federer (88.8%) are next in line for those players with a minimum 50 wins.
5 – Borg (1976-80) and Federer (2003-07) both hold the record for the most consecutive championship wins in the open era with five.
41 – Consecutive wins for Borg (1976-81), is the most in the tournament’s history, John McEnroe ending his run in 1981 final. Federer (2003-08) owned a 40 match winning streak before losing to Rafael Nadal in 2008 in what is arguably the Greatest match in the history of the sport.
34 – Consecutive sets won by Roger Federer (2005-06), the best streak at Wimbledon. McEnroe won 31 consecutive sets in 1984-85.
0 – Bjorn Borg is the only player in the Open-Era to win the Championships without dropping a set, doing so in 1976 when the Swede won his first Wimbledon. American Don Budge was the first man to achieve this feat at Wimbledon in 1938, while Federer was the last man to reach the final without dropping a set (2006 and 2008).
7-0 – Pete Sampras was undefeated in the 7 Wimbledon finals he played in (1993-95, 1996-00), the best record in finals by any player.
CHANNEL SLAM – Novak Djokovic will attempt to join Laver (1969), Borg (1978-80), Nadal (2008, 2010) and Federer (2009) to have completed the French-Wimbledon Double or the “Channel Slam” in the open era.
4 – Runners-up finishes for Boris Becker (3-4 in Finals) and Jimmy Connors (2-4 in Finals), the most in the open era.
NATIONAL RIVALRY – The Last Wimbledon final to feature players from the same nation was back in 1999 when American Pete Sampras defeated compatriot Andre Agassi.
ALL FIRST-TIMER FINAL – The Last Wimbledon final to feature Grand Slam Final debutants was in 1996 when Dutch Richard Krajicek got the better of American MaliVai Washington.
ARTHUR ASHE – The American Legend is the only black man ever to win the singles title at Wimbledon in 1975 when he dethroned compatriot Jimmy Connors.
20 – In the 48 Editions of Wimbledon in the open era, the top seed has triumphed on 20 occasions.
1R Exit – In 2003, Aussie Lleyton Hewitt became the first defending Wimbledon men’s champion in the open era to lose in the first round when he was bundled out by qualifier Ivo Karlovic.
GREAT GORAN – In 2001, Croat Goran Ivanisevic became the lowest-ranked player to ever win Wimbledon and the only wildcard entrant to win a Grand Slam. He was also the lowest ranked finalist at Wimbledon in the Open-Era. He also and served a record 212 aces during his championship run in 2001, the all-time record.
NEW BALLS PLEASE – For the 100th edition in 1986, white balls were replaced by yellow ones for the first time.
ALL LEFTY CLUB – The 1984 Wimbledon final was the last played by two left-handers at the All England Club. American John McEnroe defeated his compatriot Jimmy Connors.
48 – Prior to the 2001 Wimbledon, Ivanisevic had played in 47 slams before converting his first title.
WINNING A SLAM FINAL SAVING MATCH POINTS
1948 – Bob Falkenburg d. John Bromwich 75 06 62 36 75 — Saved three match points.
1927 – Henri Cochet d. Jean Borotra 46 46 63 64 75 — Saved six match points.
17y 7m 15d – German Boris Becker (1985) is the youngest winner, youngest finalist and semi-finalist at Wimbledon. He also managed to defend his title in 1986 (at 18y 7m 14d), becoming the youngest player to defend a Grand Slam title in the open era.
20 – Wimbledon Editions played by Jimmy Connors, the most in the open era.
41y 5m 19d – In 1909, British Arthur Gore is the oldest player to date to hold the singles title.
31y 11m 25d – Arthur Ashe (1975) is the oldest Wimbledon champion in the open era. Ken Rosewall is the oldest Wimbledon finalist during that time, making the final in 1974 at 39y 8m 4d.
MULTIPLE MEETINGS IN WIMBLEDON FINALS
LONGEST MATCH – American John Isner defeated Frenchman Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon 2010 in an 11-hour and five minute first round marathon match played over three days. Isner also set the record for aces in a match with 113 and Mahut is second with 103. The contest holds the record for the longest tennis match both in time and games played.
LONGEST FINAL (TIME) – The 2008 classic between Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer is the longest final played at 4 hours and 48 minutes.
LONGEST FINAL (GAMES) – The 2009 epic between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick is the longest final played in terms of games at 77. The final set (16-14) is the longest of its kind at a Grand Slam.
£28.10 million – Total prize money for the 2016 edition, a 5% increase from 2015.
£2 million – Prize money for the singles champion, an increase of £0.12 million from last year.
484,391 – Total attendance for the 13 days of the 2015 Championships.
Nick Kyrgios was in a cheerful mood in his pre-event press conference as he showed up to discuss his opener against Radek Stepanek, which will no doubt be a fun affair. Bring your popcorn, folks!
The young Aussie revealed that Stepanek, who at 37 is 16 years his senior, is a good friend of his and had actually offered to help him on tour a little bit, considering Kyrgios has no coach.
“Not so much coaching. Yeah, he was just helping me a little bit. So it’s just, like, I’m playing him now, it’s pretty crazy,” said Kyrgios.
Good mood or not, there was bound to be an edgy moment from the world No. 18, although this one might have been justified and more on the hilarious side.
He was asked a question about Novak Djokovic, and what stands out in his game, and after answering, the same reporter questioned him on who he thought the favourite for the Wimbledon title was.
“Probably Djokovic. It’s a silly question,” Kyrgios said smiling. “No more questions for you, bro.”
Another journalist wondered if he has been following the rugby and his views on England beating Australia. The response was: “I’ve been playing computer games.”
Britain’s Johanna Konta is a top-16 seed for the first time at Wimbledon, which means she gets to be in the special locker room dedicated to top-16 seeds. She let out a secret though. There’s no big difference between either locker room.
“I think it was more just, you know, being excited to see if there’s any difference in the locker rooms,” Konta said. “But the showers are the same size. The towels look the same. I think, yeah, once that initial excitement ‘oh, it’s something new’, then, yeah, you start thinking about things that are more important.”
On the practice courts, Roger Federer had an interesting choice of practice partner, Jiri Vesely – the only player besides Andy Murray to defeat Novak Djokovic in a complete match this year.
That’s not the reasoning behind the choice thought since Czech Vesely is a lefty which makes him an appropriate preparation for Federer’s first round opponent, the left-handed Guido Pella.