Petra Kvitova yesterday swept to a tearful French Open victory in her first match since surviving a horrifying knife attack which almost ended her career.
The two-time Wimbledon champion downed outclassed Julia Boserup of the US 6-3, 6-2, falling to her knees in celebration before weeping at the net.
“I’m really glad to have made the decision to play here,” said 27-year-old Kvitova, who was seriously hurt when she tackled an armed intruder at her home in the eastern Czech town of Prostejov in December last year. “Thank you for everything, you helped me through this difficult time.”
“I won the match today, but I knew I had already won,” she added in reference to the initial nightmare scenario in which she feared she would lose the fingers on her left playing hand.
Kvitova, the 15th seed and a French Open semi-finalist in 2012, fired nine aces and 31 winners past Boserup, making her debut at the tournament at the age of 25.
Czech star Kvitova is to face Bethanie Mattek-Sands or Evgeniya Rodina in the next round.
Timea Bacsinszky, the Swiss 30th seed who made the semi-finals two years ago, was also an early winner, seeing off Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-1, 6-2.
Olympic champion Monica Puig sent veteran Italian Roberta Vinci to her 10th first round loss in 13 visits to Paris, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
Serena Williams might be missing from this year’s French Open, but big sister Venus Williams is still going strong and yesterday marked her French Open 20th anniversary.
Three weeks shy of her 37th birthday, the US star, who made her debut in the French capital in 1997, begins her latest campaign against China’s Wang Qiang.
Venus Williams, seeded 10, has played every year since 1997 with the exception of 2011 and despite her senior citizen status, she is still a contender at the Slams as her run to the Australian Open final in January proved.
Her staggering longevity is illustrated by the fact that her potential second-round opponent is compatriot Amanda Anisimova who, at just 15, is the youngest main draw competitor since 2005.
When Venus Williams was losing the 2002 French Open final to Serena Williams, Anisimova was just nine months old.
“I’m here as I still have a lot to give. That just wraps it up,” Venus Williams said, who has never got beyond the quarter-finals in Paris since her runners-up spot 15 years ago.
Anisimova, the Florida-based daughter of Russian parents, made the tournament courtesy of winning the US wild card play-off.
She faced Japan’s world No. 94 Kurumi Nara yesterday.
World No. 1 Angelique Kerber yesterday became the first top seed in French Open history to lose in the opening round when she was knocked out by Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-2.
Before this year, the earliest exits suffered by a top seed were in the second round — by Justine Henin in 2004 and Serena Williams in 2014.
The German left-hander has endured a miserable clay-court season, losing early in the Women’s Stuttgart Open in Germany, and crashing out in her opener at the Italian Open in Rome, while retiring from her last-16 clash in the Madrid Open with a lower back injury.
Makarova, also left-handed, is a former top tenner who has made at least the quarter-finals of all the majors, except the French Open.
Makarova goes on to face either Lesia Tsurenko or Kateryna Kozlova, both of the Ukraine.
Japanese couple Rikiya and Ayumi Kataoka had their honeymoon wrecked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but their resourcefulness in enforced exile in Cape Verde has won them appointments as ambassadors for its Olympic team. The Kataokas had completed a third of their round-the-world trip when a suspension in long-haul flights stranded them for five months in the archipelago of 10 tiny islands off the coast of West Africa. Unable to resume their journey to Europe and then home to Japan, and unwilling to head to the African mainland, where virus cases are spiking, they had to trade their skills with domestic businesses to
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