Petra Kvitova Makes Emotional Return to Tennis

The two-time Wimbledon champion's comeback at the French Open ended in the second round Wednesday in a close match against qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who recorded her best result at a major in almost two years with a 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-5) victory.

It's the latest in a string of early exits for Kerber, who reached her first three major finals in 2016.

It is no secret that clay is Kerber's least favourite surface, and her 3-5 win-loss record on the red dirt this season (including Fed Cup) is testament to that.

Kvitova suffered career-threatening damage to the tendons and nerves in her left hand when she was stabbed by an intruder in December, but she has battled back and made her WTA Tour return on Sunday.

It is Venus' 20th attempt at winning this title and now she faces either Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp or Belgian Elise Mertens.

Kerber went down 6-2 6-2 in one hour and 22 minutes, leaving her number one status in the balance. Normally I can move well, but on clay, it's always different and hard for me. "I really enjoyed my singles out there".

Mixing winners and unforced errors in nearly equal measure, Kvitova had three break points to go 4-0 up but Boserup saw them off, although she could not fully overturn the advantage.

"I won for the second time, if I can say". I'm disappointed that the clay court season was not so good.

But on the brighter side, there was Petra Kvitova, who has already locked up the feel-good story of this French Open after a blistering performance against Julia Boserup.

Kvitova and Mattek-Sands shared a long embrace at the net, and the American said: "She's an inspiration, actually". The motivation I had today was fantastic - and I really just didn't want to lose.

Kvitova had missed all season prior to the French Open while recovering from surgery on her racket-holding left hand.

"I'm really happy for her and I'm glad to see all of the players giving her a warm welcome back because she deserves it and she's such a great champion and a truly fantastic person off the court that she deserves that and more", said Rio Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig. "So I want to improve my game to play the best and to have some great results".

The expectations are much bigger, especially in the big tournaments and the grand slams. Of course, this is what I love and I will try to find the solution to come back maybe stronger.

There was a notable victory, meanwhile, for 18-year-old American Cici Bellis over last year's semi-finalist Kiki Bertens. The 10th-seeded Williams, a runner-up in Paris in 2002, trailed, 3-1, in the opening set but then won seven consecutive games.

  • Julie Sanders