The tennis world lost a great player this week when 28-year-old Marian Bartoli retired. It is hard to put into words what she means to the tennis world because she never gained popularity like Maria Sharapova or the Williams sisters. But there will be a huge void in all tournaments.
Bartoli is not your typical tennis player. Her father saw Monica Seles defeat Steffi Graf in the 1992 French Open final and introduced the style of play to Marion. She quickly adopted using two hands for her forehand and backhand. She was very aggressive and hard-hitting and could return a serve with immense power. Using two hands made her slower on court, but with changes to exercise routine and diet, she was able to move better.
The best parts of Bartoli on court were her actions. She would never stand still. She bounced. A LOT. If she was not serving she would practice her swings on her way back to the baseline. Her legs would be shaking when she sat down between sets and games. She would rush the court right when the umpire would yell time.
At 21-years-old, she made a name for herself in January 2006 when she won her first senior title at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand. She entered five of seven hard court tournaments and reached the third round, including the US Open. She reached the final in Bali, but was defeated by Svetlana Kuznetsova. But she won the title at the AIG Japan Open Tennis Championships, which propelled her into the top 20 in the world. She was #17 and 45-28.
2007 was even better. She reached the fourth round at the French Open, but lost to Jalena Jankovic. It was the first time she reached the fourth round in a Grand Slam. A month later she reached the Wimbledon final by defeating top seed Justine Henin in the semifinal. That match is considered one of the biggest upsets in history. She lost to Venus Williams, but was ranked #11. Injuries plagued her after she lost in the fourth round at the US Open, but ended the year at #10 and 47-31.
Bartoli shined at the 2013 Wimbledon Tournament. She did not drop a set in the tournament and defeated Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-4. It was her first and last Grand Slam title. She climbed into the stands to hug her father Walter, who was her first coach and biggest inspiration.
However, Simona Halep defeated her on Wednesday at the Western & Southern Open. At the press conference she announced her retirement with tears streaming down her cheeks.
“I have pain everywhere after 45 minutes or an hour of play,” she said. “I’ve been doing this for so long. And yeah, it’s just body-wise, I can’t do it anymore.”
Many are sad to see her leave, including WTA Chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster:
“She is an inspirational champion and a great ambassador for women’s tennis that has dedicated her life to the sport and given so much back to the game,” Allaster said. “Fans and everyone at the WTA will surely miss Marion’s energy and passion for our sport.
“I am so proud of her for who she is, her values, and for fighting to realize her dream of winning Wimbledon.”
You will be missed, Marion Bartoli. Thank you for many enjoyable and exciting matches. Thank you for being yourself and proving to females everywhere that being true to yourself is all that matters.