“The end of her career did not even cross her mind,” Tejkal said in an interview on Czech television. “She kept saying, ‘Let them put me together fast, no matter if it takes months or years.’ She is looking forward to training again.”
Damage to her left hand could affect her future in tennis: Kvitova plays left-handed and uses a two-handed backhand. She was transported to a hospital in Brno, the country’s second-largest city, roughly 40 miles away, where Kvitova had been scheduled to appear at a children’s charity event Tuesday. After 3 hours 45 minutes, doctors had repaired tendons in all five digits of her left hand as well as two nerves, Kvitova’s spokeswoman, Katie Spellman, said in a statement.
“Considering the extent of the damage, the surgery went very well,” Spellman said.
Kvitova will wear a cast for six to eight weeks, and will be unable to bear weight for three months. A timetable for a possible return to the sport is not yet known.
Dr. Michael W. Kessler, the chief of hand and elbow surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, said the numbness after sustaining nerve injuries could prove particularly disruptive to playing tennis again.
“Hitting a forehand or a backhand is really challenging with tendon injuries, but we also always talk about touch in tennis, to hit a drop shot or something like that,” said Kessler, who did not know the specifics of Kvitova’s injury. “A tennis racket is the extension of someone’s arm, so not having the feedback from the fingertips to the same level of specificity that was there before can also be challenging.”
Kvitova had been scheduled to begin her 2017 season at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia, but pulled out earlier Tuesday with an existing stress fracture in her right foot. The Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam event, begins on Jan. 16.
Kvitova, 26, reached her career-high ranking of No. 2 in 2011, the year of her first Wimbledon title. Kvitova beat Maria Sharapova in straight sets in the final with a display of thunderous power from her swooping serve and percussive forehand. She was the first Czech to win a Grand Slam singles title since Jana Novotna won Wimbledon in 1998.
Kvitova routed Eugenie Bouchard for her second Wimbledon title in 2014.
After falling out of the top 10 this year, Kvitova surged in the second half of the year, winning a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics, WTA titles in the Chinese cities of Wuhan and Zhuhai, and a fifth Fed Cup title with her Czech teammates in November. She finished the year ranked 11th. Last week, she won the WTA’s sportsmanship award for the fifth time in six years.
Elite women’s tennis players have been violently attacked before, often with career-altering results. In 1993, top-ranked Monica Seles was stabbed during a match in Hamburg, Germany, and did not return to the sport for more than two years. When she did, her dominance subsided and she added only one Grand Slam singles title to her previous eight.
In 2007, sixth-ranked Anna Chakvetadze and her family were assaulted during a home invasion in Moscow. Chakvetadze, who had made the semifinals of the United States Open three months before, could not replicate that success, and she retired in 2013 at age 26.
Chakvetadze said Tuesday that she was “very upset” when she heard that Kvitova had been attacked, emphasizing that mental recovery from such an attack can be more difficult than the physical aspects.
“Especially when you got badly injured, you always ask yourself, ‘Why did it happen?’” Chakvetadze said. “Could I do something different in that situation? I got an arm nerve injury after they tied it up with TV cable, and it took one month to feel my arm again. With a knife, it’s even worse. I hope she will recover as soon as possible, mentally and physically, but it would not be easy.”