EASTBOURNE, England, June 20 (Reuters) - Pressure? No problem, says Petra Kvitova as she prepares to defend her Wimbledon title next week.
“The pressure is there and it’s normal, but without pressure it would be boring,” the Czech world number four told Reuters.
“The expectation is big, but I‘m glad that my team and me are not really thinking about the pressure too much.”
After becoming only the fourth female left-hander to win a grand slam in the professional era, life changed for the shy Kvitova, in good ways and bad.
Her results for the rest of 2011 veered from the excellent - winning the end-of-season WTA Championships and leading her team to Fed Cup victory - to the disappointing, such as a first-round loss at the U.S. Open when she hit 52 unforced errors against unseeded Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru.
“After Wimbledon, I didn’t have good matches and good results. But I think that it’s normal because it’s the first time and everything is new and it’s a new experience,” said Kvitova, 21.
“Life changed too, I had a lot of media stuff to do and sponsors, and people recognised me everywhere so it’s not easy. But anyway it’s the good part of our tennis life.”
Sitting in the sunshine at the seaside resort of Eastbourne, where she finished runner-up to Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli in the week before Wimbledon last year, Kvitova reflected on her best memory from the All-England Club.
“I think that it’s the last point, the ace, and then when I had the trophy in my hand, I think that is forever in my mind,” she said, recalling her 6-3 6-4 victory over Russian Maria Sharapova in last year’s final.
”I am so honoured to return to Wimbledon as defending champion and I am looking forward to the match when I step on to the Centre Court again.
“I think that I will have goosebumps again when I go through the gates for the first time.”
After reaching the semi-finals on clay at the French Open two weeks ago, when Sharapova took revenge before going on to win the title, Kvitova had to rush to get match-fit on her favourite surface.
“I am glad to be back on the grass,” she said. “I feel so good.”
She expects Sharapova, who reclaimed the world number one ranking with her Roland Garros victory, to be the favourite next week and is delighted at having a bonus event at her beloved Wimbledon this year - the London Olympic tournament taking place there in July and August.
“Unfortunately the season is too short playing on the grass but we have the Olympics, so it is one more big event and I am so happy that I can come back and play my game again,” Kvitova said. (Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Robert Woodward)