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It's beautiful to be back - Kvitova

Petra Kvitova's pre-Championships press conference
by Caroline Cheese
Sunday 24 June 2012

Petra Kvitova's 2011 Wimbledon run started in the cosy environs of Court 14. She will be treated to a bit more of a fanfare this time around.

The 22-year-old will be watched by her parents Jiri and Pavla from the Royal Box when she walks onto Centre Court to open play on Tuesday, the honour afforded to the women's defending champion every year.

"I think for me it's very nice to have them here for the first match as the defending champion," she said. "For them it's I think honour, too, because my father was my coach until my 16. They travel with me a lot, so for them it's very nice, for sure."

Kvitova isn't ruling out a few more tears from her emotional dad, who famously broke down after watching his daughter sweep past Maria Sharapova in last year's final.

It was Jiri who introduced Petra to the game when she used to pick up balls for him and her two brothers. It was Jiri who encouraged her to start playing, simply because he wanted her to have a hobby, and Jiri who sat her down to watch videos of the Czech-born great Martina Navratilova.

Things have a changed a lot since then, but Kvitova has retained her almost childlike enthusiasm for the game.

"I think that inside I'm still same person as before the Wimbledon and I'm trying to be still same," she said.

"I'm more celebrated in Czech and in the world. The people recognize me everywhere. In the beginning was very strange for me.  Now it's much better and I know that it's part of our life, so I'm OK."

In 2011, Kvitova rode the momentum of a run to the final in Eastbourne a week before Wimbledon. Now, she arrives at the All England Club having lost to Ekaterina Makarova in her first match on the south coast. She also acknowledges that there is added expectation on her shoulders after her achievements last year.

Not that she is complaining.

"I'm very honoured to be as a champion here.  I mean, it's forever," she said. "I think the pressure is here, for sure. I will try to not thinking about when I will be on the court and try to thinking about the points and about the match.

"I mean, it's beautiful be back here and play on the grass again."

Kvitova, who begins her title defence against Uzbekistan’s Akgul Amanmuradova, might try to block out the significance of the match, but she only need look down for a reminder. Kvitova will walk out on Centre Court wearing trainers with her name on the back and the number 11 on the side - a reference to the year she won Wimbledon and her life changed forever.


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