In a move that will send shockwaves reverberating through the tennis world, defending Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli announced her retirement from the sport following a second-round loss to Simona Halep of Romania at the 2013 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
ESPN Tennis' Twitter feed first had the news, which she announced at her post-match press conference:
Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has announced she is retiring from tennis following her loss today in Cincinnati.— ESPNTennis (@ESPNTennis) August 15, 2013
The eighth-seeded Bartoli started out Wednesday night's match well, dominating the unseeded Halep, 6-3, in the first set. But she became noticeably fatigued as the match went on, losing a hard-fought second set, 6-4, and getting blown out for a 6-1 defeat in the third.
After the match, Bartoli told reporters that the wear and tear on her body is the overwhelming reason she's walking away from the game, per the Western & Southern Open's Twitter feed:
Bartoli later took to Twitter to thank fans for their support:
Hey to all of u! 4:55 am can't sleep of course ,reading all your sweet messages, and it makes me cry, thank u for sending me all this love— Marion bartoli (@bartoli_marion) August 15, 2013
Best known for her triumph at the All England Club just earlier last month, the 28-year-old Frenchwoman began her pro career in 2001. She bounced around smaller tours overseas, finally breaking through as a permanent fixture on the WTA tour two years later.
Taking a stepping-stone approach to stardom rather than the rapid ascent usually seen in this sport, Bartoli slowly worked her way up the world ranks. Known for her unorthodox playing style—in particular her two-handed forehand and backhand swings—she made a habit of giving the very best in the world a run for their money over the course of her career.
She won her first singles championship in 2006 at the ASB Classic in New Zealand, going on to win two more during that campaign to achieve her first top-20 ranking.
Overall, Bartoli finishes her career with eight WTA titles.
The most notable of those triumphs was also her last. Bartoli captured her first and only Grand Slam this year at Wimbledon as a No. 15 seed, defeating Sabine Lisicki in straight sets. In what was the finest stretch of her career, Bartoli did not drop a set in any of her seven matches and knocked out rising stars like American Sloane Stephens along the way.
It turns out she thinks that was her last gasp. Per USA Today's Douglas Robson:
On Wimbledon title: "That was probably the last little bit of something that was left inside me." #cincytennis— Douglas Robson (@dougrobson) August 15, 2013
Bartoli returned earlier this month for the WTA Rogers Cup in Toronto, where she was forced to retire early due to an abdominal injury. It's unknown whether that particular injury was a significant factor in her latest decision, but it wouldn't be shocking if it did.
Bartoli is currently the seventh-ranked player in the world, tying the highest position of her career. Her other career bests at major tournaments include quarterfinals appearances at the U.S. Open and Australian Open, along with reaching the semifinals at the 2011 French Open.
Whether Marion Bartoli's retirement sticks remains to be seen, but the tennis world surely would not hesitate to welcome her back to the tour.