Marion Bartoli: Queen of the Island of Misfit Toys at Wimbledon
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If you were Marion Bartoli two weeks ago, would you have dared imagine that you would be playing in the Wimbledon final in a fortnight?
In your wildest dreams, were you holding the Venus Rosewater Dish without having lost a set in six matches? With heavyweights such as Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka standing in the way, such thoughts would have constituted pure hubris. As a matter of fact, Bartoli hadn't’ won a singles title of any sort in nearly two years.
Yet when the top three seeds in the women’s draw all fell in the first week, it was like the parting of the Red Sea, and a suddenly wide-eyed Bartoli saw the opportunity of her lifetime. Not the most athletic player on the women’s tour, Bartoli is noted for her scrappy and sometimes quirky play. Her routines before returning serve are as well-known as her two-fisted forehand, modeled after Monica Seles’.
What can be said of Bartoli over the past two weeks is that she seized the moment and played perhaps the most confident and aggressive tennis of her life. No stranger to the Wimbledon finals, having lost to Venus Williams in 2007, Bartoli seemed unfazed by the pressure of Centre Court and attacked her ground strokes against an admittedly shaky opponent, Sabine Lisicki. Her returns of serve were impressive, and her perhaps underrated court coverage was enough to stymie the Lisicki offense.
After dominating thefirst set 6-1, Bartoli played a gutsy game, serving at 0-1 in thesecond set, and fought off several break points to kill Lisicki’s momentum and break her will. Like a dying supernova, Lisicki burned bright for a few minutes at the end, winning three consecutive games to bring the score to 5-4, but Bartoli never lost her nerve and closed at the match with an ace, winning 6-1, 6-4.
An overjoyed Bartoli ran straight over to courtside and climbed into her box, where she embraced her father, who coached her for most of her life. After 13 long years on the pro circuit, she had finally won a Grand Slam.
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