By Toby Davis
LONDON (Reuters) - Learning to walk again after a career-threatening injury helped Sabine Lisicki realize that anything is possible - even reaching a Wimbledon final.
The German showed remarkable resilience to battle through a three-set epic against Agnieszka Radwanska on Thursday, winning 6-4 2-6 9-7 in a thrilling semi-final on Centre Court that ebbed and flowed as both players took it in turns to take control.
It should, however, come as no surprise that she passed her test of nerve as Lisicki is used to overcoming adversity.
The world number 24 suffered a serious ankle injury in 2010 that kept her out of the game for five months and included a painstaking rehabilitation.
Yet she never doubted her ability to get back to her best.
"I always believed in it, always," she told reporters after setting up a final against Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli.
"No matter what happened. I can still remember when the doctor told me that I have to be on crutches the next six weeks.
"I was like, Okay, when can I get back? That was my first question... That period made me a much stronger person and player.
"I know anything is possible after learning how to walk again."
Lisicki said her passion for the game was the driving force behind her return but she also had a helping hand from another sportsman's tale of adversity, finding inspiration in the biography of Austrian skier Hermann Maier.
Maier was involved in a near-fatal motorbike accident and nearly had to have his leg amputated, but he came back to win Olympic silver and world championship gold.
"I read his book while I was injured," Lisicki said. "You know, almost losing his leg and then to come back and be the world champion in his sport, I think was an unbelievable story."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)