Wimbledon: Kirsten Flipkens prepares to face Marion Bartoli in Thursday's semi-finals
Kirsten Flipkens is determined to make the most of an unexpected opportunity in Thursday's Wimbledon semi-final.
Last Updated: 04/07/13 8:03am
The 28-year-old Belgian - known affectionately as 'Flipper' - almost quit tennis last year after being struck down by serious illness.
On Wednesday she beat 2011 champion Petra Kvitova 4-6 6-3 6-4 on Centre Court, but rewind just 14 months and her career was in the balance.
Doctors discovered four blood clots in her calves because of a hitherto unknown genetic disorder. Flipkens was told that if she boarded a plane to Japan, where she was due to play in the Fed Cup, her legs would turn blue due to thrombosis.
After two months off court, Flipkens took a while to regain her form, but she looked like a potential champion when she came back from a set down to defeat Kvitova.
The Belgian summed up her turnaround in fortunes when she said: "Last year I didn't get into the qualifying of Wimbledon. I was ranked 262; today I'm a semi-finalist in a grand slam. It's more than a dream."
Flipkens still has to take blood-thinning tablets before she flies and must also wear rather unflattering compression socks in order to stop more clots forming.
But she thinks the setback, which came a few years after she was warned that her playing days could be over because of a back injury, helped her career, rather than hindered it, even though the injury meant she lost her funding from the Belgian tennis federation.
"Maybe I started to know what's important in life after that," said the 20th seed, who has won just one tour title in her career.
"I think winning or losing a tennis match doesn't make a big difference. I just started to see things in perspective.
"I've been through a lot of ups and downs throughout my career. I've had so many injuries. I was a world champion junior. The year after I had a really bad back injury. All doctors said my career would have been over normally.
"My love for the sport kept me going. I'm a person who doesn't like to break. I like to fight back."
That fighting spirit will do her well when she steps out on Centre Court against Bartoli, who knocked out American rising star Sloane Stephens 6-4 7-5 in the last eight.
Sabine Lisicki, who shocked Serena Williams on Monday, continued her progression through the tournament by beating Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-3 6-3.
Lisicki will play the highest remaining seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the other semi-final - providing the fourth-ranked Pole overcomes the thigh injury she suffered in her three-set win over Li Na.