LONDON, Great Britain - Petra Kvitova says the welcome she received from fellow players and supporters has aided her return to tennis.
The Czech was forced to take time out of the sport after being attacked in her Prostejov home shortly before Christmas. Roland Garros marked her comeback earlier than expected in May, and she even went on to win the Aegon Classic in Birmingham last month.
"It was so sweet of the players, of the tournament, of the fans and everyone," she told wtatennis.com. "It was so special for me - I'll never be the same again, and now when I see everyone I have a much better mood. I have a great team, great people around me - I am really blessed that I have them."
Victory in the first round at Wimbledon - a venue where she has twice been champion - this week followed an emotional opening victory at he French Open last month, when she overcame Julia Boserup in her first match back on court. Kvitova, however, is aware she still has work to do in order to regain her past form.
"I'm still in the process, on the way," she continues. "The hand is still not 100% and probably never will be. I just need to work with what I have, to get used to my new hand - if I can call it that! I'm happy that I am able to play tennis and I hope that my level will increase as well."
The 27-year-old admits that she found it difficult to get used to her new grip and how to handle a racket, but credits her family and friends with supporting her through the process. "The first time I saw my hand, it was a little bit different than before - that was the hard part," she recalls. "The time I started to practice with it, the doctor gave me my racket and I said, 'Oh, it's not good.' I didn't really have a great mood afterwards - every step was hard because I didn't really know how to respond.
"[But] every time was getting better, even from the beginning when I hit. It was painful, it was tough. I wasn't really staying alone for a couple of weeks, maybe months - I wasn't ready to be alone, so my parents and family helped me through this amazingly, the same as my team.
"From the first time [after the attack] I was really happy that I was still alive, then I was happy that I have all my fingers and I can move them. I'm glad that I'm here."