Bartoli's Dream Comes True At Wimbledon
Published July 06, 2013 12:05
LONDON, England - Six years ago she made an inspiring run to her first Grand Slam final here, but came away without the title - and on Saturday, six years later, Marion Bartoli righted all of those wrongs, playing a near-flawless final against Sabine Lisicki to win the biggest prize there is.
After a scratchy start to the match - she lost serve in the opening game, double faulting on break point - Bartoli broke back right away in the next game to even things at 1-all, then ran off the next five games too, eventually tucking away the 30-minute opening frame, 6-1, on a Lisicki forehand into the net.
Lisicki temporarily stopped the momentum, holding serve to open the second set, but Bartoli went on another run from there, winning five games in a row to build a 5-1 second set lead, then bringing up three match points on Lisicki's serve in that game. It was looking a lot like a foregone conclusion.
It wasn't the end just yet though - Lisicki fought off all three of those match points, one with a winner, one with an unreturnable serve, one with a Bartoli backhand error - then held serve, broke and held serve again. Things were looking dubious for Bartoli - a 61 51 lead was now cut to a 61 54 lead.
But, serving for her first Grand Slam title, Bartoli stepped up to the baseline one last time and served up a love game, firing an ace out wide, chalk flying up, on her fourth match point. It was over, 61 64.
With the kind of visible joy that could only come out after realizing a childhood dream, Bartoli ran to her box, embracing her father Walter, Amélie Mauresmo and Kristina Mladenovic, among many others.
The Frenchwoman then made her way to the BBC's Sue Barker for the traditional on-court interview.
"Honestly I still can't believe it," Bartoli beamed. "I've dreamed about this moment for so long. For me, winning Wimbledon is beyond my wildest dreams, let alone with an ace - but I've been practicing my serve for so long, I guess I saved it for the best moment! I'm so happy to be holding this trophy.
"This has been my dream since I was six years old."
She also had some comforting words for an emotional Lisicki. "I was there in '07 and missed it, and I know how it feels," she said. "Sabine, believe me you will be there again. I have no doubt about it."
A little later, Bartoli made her way off the court and elaborated on the day with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi.
"I honestly just can't believe it," she said. "I feel like I'm going to wake up and none of this will have happened. I was just really focused on every single point out there. I saw the finish line at 5-1 but then she started playing so well - but to finish it with an ace is just amazing. I'm so happy right now."
And on the hug with her father in her player box? "It was incredible. I started to play tennis with him when I was five and a half, picking up my first racquet and hitting balls over the net. So winning this and sharing the moment with him was really my all time goal. I feel like I could retire tomorrow.
"To share this kind of happiness with him, and everyone, it's just amazing."
Bartoli's victory may even be the sweetest victory in the Open Era - this was the 47th Grand Slam tournament she has played in her career, making it the longest wait for a first Grand Slam title in the Open Era. Jana Novotna had the previous record, winning in her 45th attempt at Wimbledon in 1998.