In Petra Kvitova, a new star is born
Petra Kvitova is not the type of individual who seeks attention. She's kind of shy about her achievements.
But after defeating Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday for the Wimbledon title, she can't escape being famous.
"I'm so tired," Kvitova told about 10 journalists receiving some extra time with the champion after she did her main news conference and TV interviews. "I know it will change. I don't know what it will be [like] in [her native] Czech Republic."
When asked if she ever had a desire to be famous, the 21-year-old struggled to answer the question.
"I mean, it's part of being a tennis player, being famous," she eventually said. "So when I won Wimbledon, I had to agree [with it]."
One sign of that fame is being added to the Wimbledon Wall of Champions, which is located within the inner sanctum of the All England Club. The new champion's name -- clear and bold in gold lettering -- is put in its rightful spot even before the trophy ceremony on Centre Court is concluded.
Kvitova was able to watch the procedure when it was shown on the Centre Court scoreboard. Whether she's ready or not, Kvitova knew it was just another sign of her burgeoning stardom.
"When I was sitting on the court after the match I saw it [happening] on the TV," Kvitova said. "It was strange."
Sharapova showed herself off as a true champion in defeat Saturday afternoon. She held her head high while congratulating and crediting Kvitova for playing "a terrific match" in winning her first Wimbledon title.
Sharapova's fiancé, former NBA champion Sasha Vujacic, wasn't surprised she handled the loss so well. Yet he's ready to offer a shoulder to lean on -- and a positive perspective -- if she requires it.
"She's a true champion and she will definitely, we'll all be sad for the next couple of days," said Vujacic, who plays for the New Jersey Nets. "It was, obviously, a great opportunity and it went away. But she realizes that as much hard work that she put in, it will pay off sooner than later. Patiently, slowly, she's going where she has to be."
Sharapova has struggled to regain her stature as a three-time Grand Slam champion since having shoulder surgery in October 2008. She won her first major as a 17-year-old at Wimbledon in 2004 and also has U.S. Open and Australian Open titles.
Following the surgery, she's had to find a new serve with a shorter backswing in an effort to accommodate her reconstructed shoulder.
Her 2011 season is coming together in fine fashion despite the loss to Kvitova. She won the Rome title, reached the finals at Wimbledon and the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, and the semifinals at Roland Garros and the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif.
"I think she's on the right road, the right stage," Vujacic said. "You know, it's hard, it's hard to lose in the finals. When you lose in the finals you feel like the biggest loser in the world.
"Maria is on the right track and she's working hard. She needed a lot of time to come back, and I think if she stays on the right road there's many good things ahead of us."
Vujacic has been a loyal companion through Sharapova's entire European campaign this year. He didn't hesitate to admit he doesn't quite relish the role.
"It's very difficult to watch and I would prefer, as she already said, to play and have her in the crowd," he said. "But I learned one thing in my career. Before you win it, you have to lose it. And I think that's what happened to us today. She's accomplished so much and has come so far. She's lost this final, but she's back, and that's the best thing for tennis."