EASTBOURNE, England - Agnieszka Radwanska is ready to start anew and there's no better place for her to restart her season than on the lush green grass.
The 2012 Wimbledon finalist put an end to her two-month injury layoff with a strong 6-3, 6-1 win over Timea Babos in the first round of the Nature Valley International on Monday. The match was Radwanska's first since retiring in the first round of the Istanbul Cup in April due to a back injury.
"Well, those two months went like two weeks. It was so quick," Radwanska told reporters in Eastbourne. Radwanska's back injury, which led to an additional hip injury, forced her out of Roland Garros, ending her streak of 47 consecutive Slam main draws. It was the longest active streak for any player, male or female.
"A few weeks before that, I was really pushing it. I wanted to play because I had the good record and this is nice to keep it that way. But I didn't feel better after two, three weeks. Going there and not practicing at all, it would be just silly."
"That was always disappointing to miss a Grand Slam," Radwanska said. "But sometimes you need to listen to your body first, and I guess that works good for me. You know, not pushing too much. And I have been playing too soon so many times, and I already had my lessons couple times last year, as well.
"Sometimes it's good to take the step back and start from the beginning. Now I'm feeling good, healthy, fresh. Of course match rhythm is always something that you need to have after a couple of matches, but playing today like this, I didn't really feel that I miss whole clay court season and didn't play a match last two months. So I guess that's good."
The last two seasons have been rocky for Radwanska. For years a perennial Top 10 player, the Pole has seen her ranking slip to No.31 as she's battled her body. After a sputtering start to the season, Radwanska looked to get some traction at the Miami Open in March, where she put in her best performance of the year to defeat No.1 Simona Halep in three sets.
But after a career built on being one of the tour's week-in, week-out workhorses, Radwanska is done fighting her body. Her creative counter-punching game requires all her speed and agility. The margins are small and, now 29 years old, Radwanska knows she can't compete if her body is letting her down.
"Maybe a few years ago I'd play French Open because I didn't want to miss and let's play even when I'm not 100%. But I think I'm not in that stage anymore, and I would just rather miss something and then be healthy and try to do something big later."
"Well, [I'm] almost 30. I'm not 18 anymore. It's like you feel like you can do it, but your body, not really. That's why it's always kind of like a misunderstanding between what you want to do and your body.
"That's why also I think what was I think the worst mistake I did a couple of times is like I felt good and I want to do more. It's not about that. If I feel good, let's keep the same or just do everything to keep and to feel like this, not add more because I'm good. Then it's bad again.
"But, well, you have to have your experience, your mistakes, and then you know."
As she restarts her 2018 campaign, Radwanska will be happy to return to her most consistently successful Slam. She has made the second week in 10 of her 12 main draw appearances at Wimbledon, having reached the semifinal stage just three years ago.
"Well, I think it's kind of like a new start, especially on the grass. I wish that the grass court season would be a little bit longer than those few weeks."
Regardless of what happens over the grass season, don't expect to see Radwanska playing catch-up for the remainder of the season.
"I definitely know now that I cannot really add more tournaments or, playing more, or because I miss something now I'm going to play more. It's not working that way. I think at this stage I really have to think about the schedule, to feel healthy and good, physically and mentally."