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Tennis Farewells of the Year 2013

Top 5 / Top 10
23 Dec 2013, 20:17 IST

Wimbledon Championships 2013 Winners Ball

Marion Bartoli

I suspect it is going to be much easier to understand Marion Bartoli’s legacy in the years ahead.

It is likely to be one intrinsically linked to Wimbledon. Bartoli won her only major title at Wimbledon this year, and then sprang a surprise retirement on us just six weeks later.

Bartoli remained a unique one-off right through her career. She had a unique individual playing style, which included double-handed strokes on both flanks, an inordinate amount of shadow playing and bouncing around on tennis courts, and focused intensity on every point she played. She also had an eccentric ‘Doctor-dad’ who acted as coach and mentor, gave refreshing interviews, and boasted of an IQ of 175. What was there not to like?

In spite of all her personality and playing quirks (or perhaps, because of them), I admit I never saw her as a Grand Slam champion. Even when she made it all the way to the Wimbledon final in 2007, it seemed a pure one-off, an event caused by fortuitous circumstances. After all, how could you take seriously someone who credited her semi-final upset over Justine Henin to the presence of her favourite actor, Pierce Brosnan, in the royal box?

But the French belle continued to plug away on the circuit, continued to maintain her spot on the fringes of the tennis elite, and finally got her chance at Wimbledon redemption this year. Facing an unexpected finalist in Sabine Lisicki, she ensured she did not miss out on the opportunity, and calmly proceeded to claim her maiden Grand Slam title. A month and a half later, she was addressing the press again, this time on her retirement, with tears in her eyes. Injuries contributed to the decision, she said, but it was clear that the attaining of a cherished goal in Wimbledon had made the decision that much easier.

Highest Ranking – 7 (2012)

No. of WTA Singles titles – 8

Best Grand Slam Performance – Wimbledon, 2013 (Champion)

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