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started playing in 1993, was No. 1 in doubles and said goodbye with a bang

On April 27, 1993, a plane crashed near Libreville, the capital of Gabon. That plane was taking the Zambian team to Dakar to play against Senegal for the World Cup Qualifiers in the United States. That day of that year in which many things happened – from the first broadcast of Cartoon Network in Latin America to Colombia’s indelible 5-0 defeat of the Coco Basile National Team – a story began to be written that deserves to be told and that has just finish. The story of Kveta Peschke.

That April 27, three days before the brutal attack that Monica Seles suffered and shocked tennis, a 17-year-old girl named Kveta Hrdlickova. In her debut, on the clay of Taranto, in Italy, she beat the Finnish Nanne Tenhovuori, who was 23 at the time, 7-5, 6-3. That was the first game of a 29-season career that ended Thursday. The teenager became a 46-year-old woman. She is no longer Hrdlickova, but she is Peschke, since she adopted the last name of her husband and her trainer, Torsten, whom she married in 2003 in Berlin, one of her places in the world.

Peschke’s long and successful adventure ended with defeat in the doubles tournament played in Charleston, in the southern United States, on a green clay that is seen less and less on the professional circuit. There she lost by a double 6-3 in a clash for the round of 16. She played in a pair with the Slovakian Tereza Mihaikova, just 23 years old. Their winners were the Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich (28) and the Kazakh Anna Danilina (26).

left behind a career as long as incredible, which includes a Grand Slam title when she won the 2011 Wimbledon doubles tournament alongside Katarina Srebotnik. With the Slovenian she put together a successful partnership that between 2010 and 2012 reached 20 finals, of which they won 9. During that time, in 2011 she won the Fed Cup with the Czech Republic, the female Davis Cup and was the best doubles player on the circuit.

Peschke – though in reality she was still Hrdlickova – began competing on the ITF circuit in 1991. In 1993 she played her first two WTA tournaments with professionals from across the net. That of Taranto, on the shores of the Ionian Sea, where he shared a draw with the Argentines María José Gaidano and Inés Gorrochategui and fell in the second round against the Dutch Brenda Schultz, and six months later in Budapest, where he lost in the first round with Zina Garrison , the American who at that time, already bordering on 30 years old, was among the best on the circuit.

From there it never stopped. Until Thursday, the day of the stop and the emotions on the surface, he raised a total of 37 trophies (1 in singles and 36 in doubles). Between her first and last title there is a difference of 23 years. She won the singles tournament in Makarska, way back in 1998, when she first cracked the top 100. And she last celebrated last year when she clinched the Chicago doubles title in tandem with the German Andrea Petkovic. Impressive.

Kveta Peschke and Andrea Petkovic with the title they won at the WTA 500 in Chicago in 2021.

As a singles player, as you can see, it cost him a lot more. Among his hits at Grand Slams, where he reached a record of 18-26, are the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2005. He did not go beyond the third round in Australia (2000) and at Roland Garros (1999 and 2000) and as far that came at the US Open was the second round (1998 and 2000). His best ranking was reached in October 2005 when he became 26th in the world.

In that 2005, back in the doubles, he established himself together with the Argentine Gisela Dulko in Tier II (Premier 5) after beating the Spanish couple of Conchita Martínez and Virginia Ruano. Later, the Tigress, in pairs with the Italian Flavia Pennetta, won the finals in Stuttgart, Montreal and the 2010 Tour Championship.

The Italian Flavia Pennetta (right) and the Argentine Gisela Dulko (2-right) after beating the Czech Kveta Peschke (left) and the Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik (2-left) in the final of the 2010 Tour Championship. Photo: EFE

The Italian Flavia Pennetta (right) and the Argentine Gisela Dulko (2-right) after beating the Czech Kveta Peschke (left) and the Slovenian Katarina Srebotnik (2-left) in the final of the 2010 Tour Championship. Photo: EFE

With two surgeries on her left knee – the first in 2003 – the Czech’s goal was always the same: to enjoy tennis. And it looks like she did.

When the ranking began, it was led by the German Steffi Graf and had the Argentine Gabriela Sabatini as one of the cheerleaders – she started season 93 as third on the planet and ended it without titles, but fifth. Now, 29 seasons later, the number one in the world is Iga Swiatek. The Pole was born on May 31, 2001. Peschke, at that time, had been playing rackets at the highest level for eight years.

Now away from endless plane rides, airports and tournaments, Peschke will have time to rewatch the movies of Christopher Reeve, his favorite actor, or his beloved musicals like Mamma Mia. They say, in her bio on the official WTA Tour site, that she loves happy endings. And it seems that Kveta’s is close to one of those fairy tales. Only instead of the wand there is a racket. And a unique story.

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