[The Washington Post] Barbora Krejcikova honors late coach and wins a French Open filled with twists and upsets

The unseeded Krejcikova, 25, whose name was on no one’s mind at the start of the French Open, was crowned its champion after a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 victory.

The brilliant Justine Henin and Martina Navratilova, with 25 Grand Slam singles titles between them, looked on from the stands.

Her late coach, Jana Novotna, surely watched from above.
And following along from home in the Czech Republic was Barbora Krejcikova’s mother, who gave her daughter the courage to knock on Novotna’s door as a teenager and ask the 1998 Wimbledon champion for help with her tennis.
Krejcikova, 25, had drawn inspiration and strength from all these women since childhood — and never more so than Saturday at Roland Garros, where she weathered a tough patch midway through the French Open final to claim her first Grand Slam title with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 victory over Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Paris.

It was only fitting that Krejcikova used the glorious moment, microphone in hand, to honor all the mentors and role models whose presence — whether in body or spirit — gave her strength and inspiration.
“Pretty much her last words to me were, ‘Just enjoy and just try to go win a Grand Slam,’”�

Krejcikova told the crowd during her on-court interview, recalling the difficult time she spent with Novotna, losing her battle with cancer, as she slipped away in 2017 at age 49. “I know somewhere, she is looking out for me. This happened pretty much because she is looking out for me.”
Krejcikova’s name was on no one’s mind at the start of the French Open.

Nor was Pavlyuchenkova’s, apart from avid tennis fans who might have remembered her promise as the world’s top-ranked junior at age 14.
But a tennis lifetime had come and gone since then. One month shy of her 30th birthday, the 31st-seeded Pavlyuchenkova was as unlikely a French Open finalist as the unseeded Krejcikova, known until recently as strictly a doubles specialist.