Tennis

Life hasn't changed - Kvitova

2011-08-06 15:51
Petra Kvitova (File)

Prostejov - Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova takes her new status as a Czech sports superstar in her stride, insisting it has not changed her life much despite busy weeks of celebrations.

Having recovered from a thigh muscle injury, the 21-year-old world number seven is bracing for an overseas campaign starting in Toronto next week and topped by the US Open at the turn of August.

"The only change is that people recognise me in the street, they want an autograph or a picture. But I'm still the same," Kvitova told AFP in an interview in Prostejov, the eastern Czech town where her club is based.

The picture of a smiling Kvitova with Wimbledon's Venus Rosewater Dish has been a permanent fixture on the front pages of Czech sports magazines since she beat Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4 in the final on July 2.

"No success can change her positive and modest character. It's rather a stimulus for her to work even harder," said her coach David Kotyza.

Kvitova enjoyed a triumphant return to her country which she criss-crossed on board a private jet lent by a local tycoon to manage a hectic agenda, including a meeting with President Vaclav Klaus, a keen tennis player.

"I spent about half an hour with Mr Klaus, talking about tennis and sports," Kvitova said.

The plane also took her to the Karlovy Vary film festival, where she met "actors, people quite different from athletes, they are funny and relaxed," she added.

And, finally, she came to face a huge crowd of fans in her home town of Fulnek in the east of the country, with population of some 6,000.

Kvitova became only the second honorary citizen of the town after Jan Amos Komensky, or Comenius (1592-1670), a philosopher, theologian and founder of modern pedagogics, who spent three years there.

Incidentally, Kvitova herself once considered being a teacher, following the example of her father Jiri Kvita, who is now deputy mayor of Fulnek.

"But it's no longer true," said the player who has earned more than three million dollars (2.12 million euros) this year alone.

"I don't play tennis for the money. I deposit it in my account and that's it," said Kvitova, who started her tennis career at the age of three under the watchful eye of her father.

The stardom of the blue-eyed blonde has brought about a less enviable aspect -- the interest of tabloids, which have been digging tirelessly in her private life, finally revealing the identity of her boyfriend.

"I was sad, astonished," she says.

After Wimbledon and before Toronto, Cincinnati and the US Open, Kvitova rested and recovered from her injury at Strbske Pleso, a magnet for tourists in the High Tatras mountains in neighbouring Slovakia.

"It's good to take a break from time to time," said Kvitova, who hurt her thigh muscle in the third-round Wimbledon clash with Italy's Roberta Vinci.

"The injury has been cured. We have focused on her physical shape, because Petra played as many matches in the first half of this season as in the full season last year," said her coach Kotyza.

"I think she has not exhausted her potential yet," he added.

Facing the American campaign, Kvitova refused to speak about goals.

"I can't tell you I'm going there to win, but I want to go as far as possible. I want to keep improving or at least play as well as in Wimbledon," said the player dubbed "Lioness" by the Czech press.

"I hear the nickname quite often, it's quite pleasant. After all, when I enter the court, I want to fight and win," she said.

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