LONDON, July 5- Three years after the Wimbledon victory that proved a poisoned chalice for Petra Kvitova, the shy Czech banished her reputation as a reluctant star by winning the title again in spectacular fashion.
When Kvitova surprisingly defeated Maria Sharapova to win her first Grand Slam crown in the 2011 Wimbledon final, it was expected to herald the start of a dominant period for the youngster, whose aggressive style seemed perfectly suited to the demands of the modern power game.
But Kvitova’s no-nonsense on-court exterior hides a her true personality, which is far more quiet and reserved, and she has been engaged in a long battle to deal with the harsh glare of the spotlight.
That dispiriting period came to a glorious end on Saturday as Kvitova routed Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-0 in the quickest Wimbledon final for 31 years.
Kvitova’s brilliant display of sledgehammer hitting capped a dominant fortnight for the sixth seed at the All England Club.
She dropped just one set in the entire tournament and, showing a hard-earned awareness of the pitfalls and pressures of success, she wiped away tears of joy to insist there will no repeat of her period in the wilderness this time.
“It’s so special. All my team helped me a lot throughout the years to come back here and win the trophy again,” Kvitova said.
“It is my second title so I hope it will be a little bit easier for me to handle.”
From being a relatively anonymous figure on the women’s tour, Kvitova’s previous Wimbledon victory had brought her uncomfortable and unwanted scrutiny from the world’s media and fans intrigued by her sudden rise to prominence.
It was a transition that proved extremely difficult for Kvitova and combined with a split with boyfriend Radek Stepanek — a player on the men’s tour — her form nosedived dramatically.
“It was really a point when everything changed in my life after Wimbledon,” she said.
But she put those doubts and fears to bed in stunning style with her Centre Court blitz of Bouchard.
– Idolises Navratilova –
Introduced to tennis by her father Jiri, Kvitova grew to idolise Czech legend Martina Navratilova while watching television footage of her heroics at Wimbledon and eventually followed in her footsteps onto the WTA Tour in 2008.
She made an immediate impact, reaching the fourth round of her first Grand Slam at the French Open.
Her first title arrived in Hobart in 2009 and she broke into the world’s top 30 after reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals a year later.
Kvitova’s star was in the ascendent and in 2011 the rest of the world got to see it as well as she won Wimbledon.
It was a fitting stage for Kvitova as she was the first left-handed female player to win the Wimbledon singles title since Navratilova in 1990.
She was also the first Grand Slam winner of either gender to be born in the 1990s.
Yet it was the moment everything changed for Kvitova.
She crashed out of the US Open first round and struggled in her next 10 Grand Slam appearances.
“You are most of the time favourite of the match and it’s really not easy. It needs some time to get used to,” she said.
But as she matured, Kvitova gradually been able to find a way to cope with those expectations.
Now 24, she has grown more comfortable with the trappings of success, swapping the humble Skoda she drove when she won Wimbledon for a more sleek BMW and moving to the millionaire’s playground of Monaco.
And back on her favourite grass courts at Wimbledon, her form has finally returned over the last two weeks.
After capping her renaissance by lifting the Venus Rosewater dish again, Kvitova admitted Wimbledon was the perfect location to show she has grown up at last.
“It’s Wimbledon. It’s the best tournament in the world for me. This is what makes tennis special,” she said.