The most shocking storyline of 2013 erupted last night as the Wimbledon champion, Marion Bartoli announced her immediate retirement from tennis after losing out to Simona Halep in her second round match in Cincy, 3-6 6-4 6-1. Firstly, I must say I am really sad to hear the news because I really warmed to Bartoli after her Wimbledon win where not only did her game flourish, but her personality and spirit shone through as well. When I headed down to Eastbourne earlier this year, she was very high on my players to watch live, but Marion has always seemed to elude me. I think she was practically the only WTA player I didn’t see this year and I am gutted that I will never get to watch her and all those charming quirks live in the flesh.
I can completely understand Bartoli’s decision to retire; she reached the pinnacle of her career by winning the Wimbledon title, a dream of hers, and there is no doubt that she would never be able to top that feeling again on a tennis court. The most shocking thing though about Bartoli retiring is the timing, just two weeks before the US Open. Bartoli is currently ranked at number 7 in 2013 Race rankings, which leaves her in a prime spot to qualify Istanbul. She also recently committed to the Hopman Cup in January with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The icing on top of the cake though is Bartoli will not get the chance to walk out on Centre Court on the first Tuesday of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships. This makes me really sad because I could imagine if I won Wimbledon (I am dreaming right now), the honour and pride to walk out as the defending champion could not be matched by much else. I think it really puts into perspective how Marion is feeling right now.
Bartoli has attributed her decision to numerous injuries including an abdominal injury, which forced her out of action in Toronto and an achilles injury this week, which meant she could barely walk at the end of last night’s match. From everything I have heard reported by the media, I get the feeling that this is not something Marion has thought long and hard about, but it is more an idea that just popped into her head. This thought is particularly likely since she committed to the Hopman Cup. Furthermore she posted on Twitter just a day ago that she was looking forward to playing next week’s tournament in New Haven and just before her match last night she even used the hashtag #soexcited. For that reason, it makes this announcement all the more weirder and I cannot help feeling that following some weeks of rest and recuperation, and with a clearer head that she may reconsider her decision.
The WTA tour will never be quite the same without Bartoli. She was never one to follow the crowd and that made me like her even much. Her game was unique to say the least, but the one thing that will live long is her incredible fighting atttitude on court, which I would put second only to Maria Sharapova in the current crop of WTA players. Writing this now, I still haven’t come to terms with Bartoli retiring! There is still a part of me that thinks she will be back for another shot at the whole caboodle, but for now, au revoir Marion and all the best…