PRAGUE Two-time Wimbledon tennis champion Petra Kvitova, whose hand was wounded in a knife attack, will not play again for at least six months and it is too early to say when she can return to competition, her publicist said on Wednesday.
Kvitova was injured on Tuesday when she fought off an intruder in her home in the Czech Republic, damaging all the fingers on her playing hand.
Following a successful operation, the world number 11 will begin her rehabilitation in about six to eight weeks and hopes to be able to grip a racket again after three months, publicist Katie Spellman said.
"The best-case scenario is that Petra will be able to return to the tennis court after six months," Spellman said in an email.
It was unclear when she might play in earnest again, "but Petra is ready to do everything she can to get back competing at the highest level."
The surgeon who operated on her, Radek Kebrle, said earlier on Wednesday that Kvitova would be unable to subject the hand to the pressures of competition until mid-2017.
"She is a young athlete, healthy... but it still is a relatively massive injury," he told a televised news conference.
The Women's Tennis Association (WTA), the organising body for the women's professional game, said it regretted Kvitova's absence from the circuit and suggested her future in the sport was uncertain.
"It's unclear if or when Kvitova will be back on the court, and the start of 2017 won't be the same without her unique power and competitive spirit," the WTA said on its website.
Aged 26, the hard-hitting left-hander rose to world number two in 2011 when she won the first of her two Wimbledon singles titles, and has been a mainstay of the top 10 virtually ever since.
She slipped in the rankings this year but showed improved form in recent months, winning the Wuhan Open title in October and the season-ending WTA Elite trophy in November.
Czech police were still searching for her attacker, public television reported.
(Reporting by Robert Muller; writing by John Stonestreet; Editing by Toby Davis)