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Comeback Queen: Vondrousova Goes From Wimbledon Fan to Finalist

Marketa Vondrousova of Czech Republic celebrates victory against Elina Svitolina of Ukraine during the Women’s Singles semi-finals match on day eleven of The Championships Wimbledon 2023 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 13, 2023 in London, England. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Wimbledon—A year ago, Marketa Vondrousova was a face in the crowd at Wimbledon.

On Saturday, Vondrousova will be the crowd’s focal point facing Ons Jabeur for the Wimbledon title.

World No. 42 Vondrousova vanquished Ukrainian wild card Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3 to charge into her maiden Wimbledon final and make history as the first unseeded Wimbledon women’s finalist in the Open Era.

It’s an astounding comeback for the 24-year-old Czech, who has bounced back from a couple of left wrist surgeries, transforming herself from Wimbledon fan to finalist in the space of a year.

Wearing a cast around her left wrist, Vondrousova attended Wimbledon qualifying last year as a fan to root for her sometime doubles partner.

At that point, the 2019 Roland Garros finalist could barely lift a packed racquet bag with her left hand.

This weekend, she’ll play to raise the Rosewater Dish.

Vondrousova, who was dropped by long-time sponsor Nike and saw her ranking plummet to No. 99 at the end of last year, is grateful just to be back playing pain-free after her wrist woes left her uncertain about her competitive career.

“I mean, after everything I’ve been through, two surgeries, it’s not always easy to come back,” Vondrousova told the media at Wimbledon. “Yeah, you don’t know if you can play at this level and if you can be back at the top and back at these tournaments.

“I just feel like I’m just grateful to be on a court again, to play without pain. I’m just really grateful for it.”

Four years after Vondrousova reached the Roland Garros final without surrendering a set before bowing to Ash Barty, she says she’s strengthened by the struggles she’s gone through.

“I think it can definitely help in tough moments,” Vondrousova said. “Also, like, I’ve been through it. Once I was very young, so I think it was just too much for me back then.

“Yeah, I think this can help you also on the way. You know what to do. You know you have to have good people around you.

“Yeah, I mean, definitely it can help. I mean, I’m a bit older now also. Yeah, I think I’m a bit different person. Yeah, I’m just very happy to be through this again.”

One of the most-heavily tattooed players in tennis, Vondrousova calls her ink “art.”

The art gallery will continue to grow if she wins Wimbledon—Vondrousova said she and her coach already made a pact to both get Wimbledon tattoos if she takes the title.

“I have a bet with my coach. If I win a Grand Slam, he’s going to get one, so I hope I will,” Vondrousova said with a smile. “I mean, we’ll see what happens and what I’ll do. For me, it’s also art. I don’t know, I just like it. I appreciate the people that do this.”

Whether she wins or loses on Saturday, Vondrousova will be pumping up the party this weekend. She celebrates her one-year wedding anniversary with husband Stepan Simek on Sunday.

Vondrousova’s husband, who has been home in Prague working and caring for the couple’s pet cat Frankie, will be in her support box on Saturday, while Frankie watches on TV.

“He’s coming tomorrow with my sister,” said Vondrousova, who had her cast removed a year ago. “We texted the cat sitter to come to our home. He’s coming tomorrow.”