Marion Bartoli of France smiles as she holds the trophy after winning the Women’s singles final match against Sabine Lisicki of Germany at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, Saturday.
London: One of the strangest Wimbledons ever produced one of its quirkiest champions – Marion Bartoli – winner of a hard-to-watch final that had the overwhelmed runner-up in near tears while the match was still going on.
Bartoli, whose power game bothered Sabine Lisicki as much as any of her notable eccentricities, won 6-1, 6-4 Saturday to capture her first Grand Slam title in her 47th appearance at a major.
“I dreamed about this moment for so long,” Bartoli said during her on-court interview.
She addressed Lisicki, who was shaking and in tears.
“I was there in 2007 and I missed it,” said Bartoli, the runner-up to Venus Williams that year. “I know how it feels, Sabine, and I’m sure you will be there one more time. I have no doubt about it.”
Indeed, the 15th-seeded Bartoli played the part of the experienced veteran. After losing serve with a pair of double-faults in the first game, she ticked off 11 of the next 12.
The 23rd-seeded Lisicki was trailing 5-1, 15-40 in the second set, then came up with a rally from out of nowhere – unexpected considering she was almost weeping on the court minutes earlier.
“I was just overwhelmed by the whole situation, but credit to Marion,” Lisicki said. “She’s been in this situation before and handled it well.”
Lisicki saved three match points and pulled within 5-4.
But after a tense changeover, Bartoli served the game out at love, dropping to her knees after hitting an ace on match point, then climbing up the wall into the players box to celebrate with 2006 Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo – the last Frenchwoman to win a Grand Slam title – and her friends and family.
“Maybe a backhand winner but just not an ace,” Bartoli said when asked how she imagined she might close out her first Wimbledon title. “I’ve been practicing my serve for so long. At least I saved it for the best moment.”
This was Bartoli’s first tournament title of any sort since 2011 and, at 28 years, 9 months, she became the fifth-oldest first-time Grand Slam winner in the Open era.
She’s awkward – with a jumping, twitching, fidgeting routine before each point, a service motion that includes no bouncing of the ball and a windup that begins with crossed wrists before she uncoils by arching her back, stretching her unbent arm behind her head, then tossing the ball. She hits two-handed groundstrokes from each side, pumps her fist after almost every point.
Whatever it is, it works. She punished those groundstrokes, had no problem with Lisicki’s serve, and undercut the notion that only Serena Williams can play the power game in women’s tennis.
It was Lisicki who knocked Williams out of this tournament in the fourth round, and had the big serve and big groundstrokes to keep going to her first career Grand Slam final.
Under the bright sunshine and the glare of Centre Court, however, she lost complete control of her serve, her game and her emotions.
After hitting her second serve into the bottom of the net while serving down 3-1 in the second set, Lisicki could be seen stifling back the tears as the pressure of her first Grand Slam final caught up with her. She did the same during the changeover, gesturing at her coaches before briefly draping a towel over her head.
Only then did she gather a bit of composure, staving off the three match points, then briefly making a match of it.
Despite the loss, she’ll make about $1.2 million – not bad for a player with career earnings of $2.8 million to this point.
Bartoli gets a $2.4 million winner’s share and caps off a lifelong quest.
“Maybe all the candles I’ve burned have helped me,” she said. “It’s been my dream since I was 6 years old.”
Emotional Lisicki weeps after Wimbledon choke
Sabine Lisicki broke down in floods of tears after crippling stagefright helped condemn her to a 6-1, 6-4 defeat to Marion Bartoli in Saturday’s Wimbledon final.
The German 23rd seed, who had beamed her way into a maiden Grand Slam final, struggled to keep her emotions in check as the match slipped away from her in the second set.
She then completely lost her composure as she addressed the Centre Court crowd after her 81-minute choke.
“I was just overwhelmed by the whole situation, but credit to Marion. She handled it perfectly, she’s been on the tour for a long time and deserves this. I just hope I get another chance as well,” said the 23-year-old Lisicki, who had knocked out five-time champion Serena Williams in the fourth round.
“I still love this tournament. I love the crowd, you helped me try and get over my nerves but Marion was just too good.”
Lisicki, bidding to be the first German winner at Wimbledon since Steffi Graf in 1996, sobbed openly as she turned to her father and mother, Richard and Elisabeth, watching from the players’ box.
“I want to thank my team, they have always been there for me….we have been through so much together, there have been so many ups and downs,” she said.
“I wish I had won but I hope to get the chance one more time.”
Bartoli, 28, is the fifth oldest woman to become a first-time Grand Slam winner in the Open Era and she achieved it in her 47th Grand Slam appearance.
Jana Novotna held the previous record of 45 majors before she broke her duck at Wimbledon in 1998.
Six years after losing to Venus Williams in the Wimbledon final, Bartoli returned to Centre Court and finally ended her long wait for a major crown with a supreme display of power hitting.
She celebrated her win with an exhausting climb into the players’ box where her father Walter and coach Amelie Mauresmo, the last French champion in 2006, were watching.
“Honestly I just can’t believe it, as a little girl I dreamt of this moment for so long,” Bartoli said.
“Finishing with an ace to win Wimbledon, even in my wildest dreams I couldn’t have imagined that. I’m just so happy to be holding this trophy.
“I missed out here in 2007. I know what it is like and I’m sure Sabine will be here one more time, no doubt about it.
Quirky Bartoli makes unique Wimbledon champion
As Marion Bartoli curled up to sleep on a sofa in the Wimbledon locker room, it was hard to believe the French star was just minutes away from one of the biggest matches of her life.
Throughout her career, Bartoli’s game has been marked by bizarre routines, most notoriously her series of jumps, skips, shuffles and twirls of her racquet as she prepares to serve and return.
But taking a 30-minute nap just before her third Grand Slam semi-final was unique even by the 28-year-old’s standards.
Outside, Wimbledon’s Centre Court was buzzing in anticipation of her clash against Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens, but 15th seed Bartoli had decided now was the time for a snooze.
When she awoke, Bartoli proceeded to rout Flipkens 6-1, 6-2 in just 62 minutes to clinch her second Wimbledon final appearance and there was even better to come from the revitalised Frenchwoman.
Bartoli returned to Centre Court on Saturday and demolished Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-4 with a superb display of power hitting to win the first Grand Slam title of her career.
It was especially fitting that Bartoli’s victory came at Wimbledon, where she lost her only previous Grand Slam final to Venus Williams in 2007.
“Holding this trophy has been my dream since I was six years old. I cannot believe it,” Bartoli said.
“Finishing with an ace, in my wildest dreams I’d never believe it. I have practised my serve for so long, at least I kept it for best moment!”
Bartoli has never been one to do things the easy way.
She grew up outside the tennis mainstream, coached by her father Walter, a doctor who had no background in the sport and yet gave up his job to teach his daughter how to become a professional.
Walter constructed home-made contraptions to help with her practice sessions, while her court positioning inside the baseline is a legacy of her days learning the game in the Haute-Loire region of France on a tiny court.
But her Wimbledon triumph has vindicated her decision to cut ties with her father and employ Amelie Mauresmo as her new coach earlier this year.
With Bartoli’s results on the slide and her father conceding she might benefit from a different voice, she made the emotional decision to hire Mauresmo and the improvement in her game is now clear to see.
It helps that Bartoli has always been able to keep her life on court in perspective.
“I’ve always been someone who loves to smile and have a laugh. Of course sometimes you have sad moments but I’ve had a great run here and right now I’m smiling even more,” she said.
Even for someone of Bartoli’s up-beat disposition, her imperious march to the Wimbledon title without dropping a set was something of shock.
She is the first Frenchwoman to win a Grand Slam since Mauresmo at Wimbledon in 2006 and the first from outside the world’s top 10 to triumph at the All England Club since Venus in 2007.
It was a far cry from the way she first burst onto the scene six years ago.
Then Bartoli reached her the Wimbledon final as an unheralded 18th seed, losing to Williams in straight sets only after causing a huge shock with her semi-final victory over then world number one Justine Henin.
In true Bartoli fashion, she said she had turned the Henin match around after seeing the former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan in the crowd and feeling that she could not play so badly in front of him.
On the evidence of her demolition of Lisicki, the days of Bartoli needing inspiration from film stars are long gone.