WIMBLEDON, England -- When professional tennis players pass the 30-year milestone, retirement questions invariably ensue. It happened to Petra Kvitova last December as she contemplated her not-too-distant 33rd birthday.
“One day it will come, that’s clear, but I don’t plan on it now,” she said in advance of United Cup play in Australia. “As soon as it dawns on me that it needs an end, I will do it and I will not force it any further. But I haven’t reached that point yet.”
The popular Czech Republic player is the second oldest player in the Hologic WTA Tour Top 20 after Victoria Azarenka, but based on the early returns of 2023, retirement might not be a point of discussion for years to come.
Kvitova, the No.9 seed, will next take on No.6 Ons Jabeur in an anticipated fourth-round match Monday against No.6 Ons Jabeur. Kvitova is ranked No.6 in the Race to the WTA Finals and has won two titles and more than $2 million this season. She won the WTA 1000 in Miami and is coming off a title run in Berlin, where she bested Donna Vekic in the final.
“I love grass,” Kvitova told the crowd at the Steffi Graf stadium. “I love you.”
Which brings us to Wimbledon, where Kvitova is a two-time champion. She and Venus Williams (five titles) are the only two current players with multiple wins here. Only Williams has a better winning percentage on grass than Kvitova and, among active players, more overall titles -- 49 to 31. Since 2000, only Serena Williams (104), Venus Williams (89), Angelique Kerber (84) and Maria Sharapova (81) have won more grass-court matches than Kvitova’s 72.
Wimbledon: Day 6
- Sabalenka powers into Round of 16
- With newfound self-belief, Alexandrova breaking new ground at Wimbledon
- Kvitova closes out Stevanovic to reach Wimbledon second week
- Jabeur overcomes Andreescu in three sets, returns to Wimbledon last 16
Kvitova’s extreme proficiency at Wimbledon was first evident in 2010 when she advanced to the semifinals. And while she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams in straight sets (the first set was a tiebreak), the next year she got to the final. This time, she closed the deal, defeating Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4. It was the first win for a Czech player since 1998, when Jana Novotna took the title. She was in the Royal Box that day, along with compatriot Martina Navratilova, a nine-time champion.
“It’s hard to find some words,” Kvitova told BBC Sport afterward.
Three years later, it happened again. If you blinked, you might have missed it.
Kvitova was a 6-3, 6-0 winner over Eugenie Bouchard in the final, a match that required only 55 minutes. Former champions Novotna and Navratilova were both on hand again.
“To be back here with the trophy is so special,” Kvitova said at the time. “Hopefully, it will be good for everyone in the Czech Republic to have a second trophy. It is my second title so I hope it will be a little bit easier for me to handle.”
How about a third Wimbledon title, which would tie her with Chris Evert for sixth on the all-time Open Era list?
“Every match is different,” Kvitova told reporters after her second-round win last week. “Every day is different, especially in the women’s game. Today was pretty hot and sunny. The balls were pretty nicely flying.”
Kvitova, too, is pretty nicely flying through the Wimbledon draw. After Jasmine Paolini forced her to three sets in the first round, Kvitova has locked it down, Friday sweeping past Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2, 6-2, and Saturday against qualifier Natalija Stevanovic, winning 6-3, 7-5.
Kvitova’s record on grass is now 74-22. Of the 128 players in this draw, only Venus Williams (98) has more victories. Because of her history here, does Kvitova feel more pressure to win at Wimbledon than at the other Grand Slams?
“I think so,” she said. “Other Grand Slams, I am more relaxed than I am here probably. Every time I’m here, I’m trying to be relaxed as well. Not easy.
“I’m trying every time. I’m still getting older and older. Still with the experience I’m still trying to find it out what I can do new, what I can’t. So far, it’s OK, so we’ll see.”