Petra Kvitova makes emotional Fed Cup return, pays tribute to Jana Novotna | tennis | Hindustan Times
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Petra Kvitova makes emotional Fed Cup return, pays tribute to Jana Novotna

A minute’s silence for the late Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna made Petra Kvitova’s Fed Cup comeback following a 15-month break a very emotional experience on Saturday.

tennis Updated: Feb 11, 2018 09:42 IST
Petra Kvitova reacts during her match against Viktorija Golubic in the Fed Cup tennis tournament.
Petra Kvitova reacts during her match against Viktorija Golubic in the Fed Cup tennis tournament.(AFP)

Petra Kvitova made a tearful return to the Fed Cup on Saturday as she helped 10-time champions Czech Republic into a 2-0 lead over Switzerland in Prague with the two-time Wimbledon winner admitting her team had been inspired by a moving tribute to fellow All England Club champion Jana Novotna.

“We went onto the court and held the minute’s silence which made us cry,” 27-year-old Kvitova told reporters after beating Viktorija Golubic 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.

The tribute to fellow Czech Novotna, who died aged 49 last November after a long battle with cancer, came just before Kvitova’s first Fed Cup rubber since a knife-wielding burglar cut her racquet hand in December 2016.

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“We thought, what a beginning, it’s not ideal to go out there and play tennis right now.”

Under a large portrait of 1998 Wimbledon champion Novotna holding the trophy, the Czech team remained silent for a while, then started a round of applause which was shared by the crowd in Prague’s O2 Arena.

“It was very sad... but a nice gesture,” said Kvitova.

Barbora Strycova then eased past Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-4 to put the Czechs in charge of the first round tie.

Barbora Strycova put her country in a commanding position by beating Belinda Bencic 6-2 6-4 after Petra Kvitova was made to fight hard for her 6-2 1-6 6-3 defeat of Viktorija Golubic.

The Czechs haven’t lost to the Swiss in 20 years, but Golubic won both of her singles against the Czechs in 2016 and Kvitova hadn’t forgotten.

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“I said to myself, I didn’t want to be the next (Czech) to lose to her,” Kvitova said. She can clinch in the first reverse singles on Sunday against Bencic.

Kvitova was playing in her first Fed Cup rubber since suffering severe hand injuries in a knife attack in December 2016, with the day’s play preceded by a minute’s silence in tribute to former Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna, who died in November.

“We went onto the court and held the minute’s silence which made us cry,” Kvitova said afterwards. “We thought, what a beginning, it’s not ideal to go out there and play tennis right now. It was very sad... but a nice gesture.

“I did enjoy it - not really the second set - but overall I did enjoy it. It’s always better to win those matches. I missed it a lot and when I heard the MC saying my name and the crowd, everything was back and as well I had some flashbacks to my past - but now it’s more happiness.”