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Driven Czech who blanks allure of fame and fortune

WINNING the 2014 ladies' singles prize money of £1.76m may seem a bit like being written a blank cheque, but the Czech who took the ladies' title on Saturday has every intention of spending hers wisely.

Petra Kvitova plans to pay for her parents to build a new house in the Czech Republic. Picture:  Reuters
Petra Kvitova plans to pay for her parents to build a new house in the Czech Republic. Picture: Reuters

Petra Kvitova has always been the 'girl next door' type and soon that can be said in a literal sense too. Officially Kvitova now resides in the tax haven of Monte Carlo, a destination suitable for parking the bulk of her career earnings, which already exceed $15m. But the biggest outlay that the 24-year-old has planned in the wake of her second SW19 crown is paying for her parents Jiri and Pavla to build a new house which will be closer to her training base on the rare occasions she returns to the Czech Republic.

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That will certainly be an alternative birthday present for her father, when Kvitova returns today to her birthplace Bilovec, where he is vice-mayor. Some champagne may even be taken to mark the occasion. But nothing major. "I'm not really interested in the money," said Kvitova, a hugely convincing 6-3, 6-0 winner against Canada's Eugenie Bouchard. "It's not my job - I have a manager for that. It is not one of the important things in my life. For my dad's birthday I know I could buy him anything, but this trophy money can't buy and I think that is enough for him. He was coaching me until my 16th birthday - everything I do is for him."

"I need to celebrate with them as well although I'm not really a celebrating kind of girl," she added. "It is enough to see them and go out together, and we can enjoy each other's company, because I am not at home so much now. Maybe there will be some champagne, but if that is the case I won't drive. I bought a flat in Monte Carlo when I won my first title and I'm looking forward to buying a house for my parents, otherwise I don't really know what I will buy. It will be a brand new house and they are going to build it."

A similarly spartan approach applies to her preferred mode of transport. While the Skoda she drove at the time of her 2011 triumph has been swapped for a BMW, she still hankers for the old one back from time to time. "I didn't have anything against the Skoda," she said. "It was perfectly fine. It went superbly. I can't find any difference. Skoda is very popular in England as well. I'm not sure why you keep asking about the Skoda."

While others embrace the limelight, the trappings of fame do not sit easily on Kvitova's shoulders. She recalls being somewhat spooked in 2011 when someone actually recognised her as she walked into SW19 one day. She still doe not feel like a big-name player.

"I'm so glad to have won my second title," she said. "It is more special than the first one. But I still don't think that I'm a superstar. I don't know what is going to happen now. The first big change was after my first title, now maybe there will be a little more again."

She added: "We came back here to try dresses on for the ball the last time, and somebody recognised me on the way from Southfields to the grounds. I remember the walk and was quite surprised when somebody recognised me. I don't really like to be recognised. I'm not really the kind of person who likes all the attention. I'm a more private person.

"That was the most difficult thing to deal with after my last Wimbledon. Suddenly the media and everyone were very interested in me, and in many ways it changed my life. I'm not sure what I will do differently this time. Maybe it will help that I already know what it feels like to be champion."

Kvitova's second victory here - which reduced nine-time winner, countrywoman and fellow left-hander Martina Navratilova to a tearful, quivering wreck - puts the tin lid on another excellent tournament for the Czech Republic. Three of the eight quarter-finalists, or two of the four semi-finalists, hailed from that nation, while the likes of Tomas Berdych and Jiri Vesely are excellent Czech talents in the men's ranks.

Kvitova, who trains alongside Berdych and fellow semi-finalist Lucie Safarova in Projestov, takes seriously being a role model for the new generation of Czech players. "We have a huge history in tennis," she said. "I am not really sure why but we are quite ... okay. The first time I won the title here I saw many children after that who want to play tennis because of me. It is nice, an honour. I need to keep working very hard to be a real idol for them."

In this era of wannabe superstars and reality TV personalities, it is endearing to meet a proper superstar who still has a grip on reality.

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