Marion Bartoli's rise from a small-town girl in the south of France to lifting the Wimbledon trophy on Centre Court is both familiar and, reassuringly, uniquely personal. Born in the commune of Le Puy-en-Velay, Marion was introduced to tennis by her father Walter, a medical practitioner, who had left the profession to dedicate his time to becoming a tennis coach. With no previous background in tennis, he set aboutsharing his newfound passion with his young daughter.
Walter introduced Marion to the game at the age of six, quickly devising and employing unconventional training methods – such as strapping tennis balls on the heels of her shoes to keep her on her toes and constantly moving. Moreover, her father would train her using different sized balls, in a variety ofdifferent colours, to help improve her hand-eye coordination. Thesemethods were designed to provide Marion with an edge in her development; a strategy which would prove effective in the long run. Their shared commitment to tennis was evident immediately, often travellinghundreds of kilometres to participate in junior tournaments.
In addition to her father's philosophy on tennis, the surfaces on which Marion trained in –small and uneven in their bounce – shaped the type of player Marion would eventually develop into. Walter, in observing the women's game at the time, noted the degree to which women's tennis has veered towards an aggressive power-hitting style played from the baseline.
Marion herself recognises the influence that Monica Seles had on her as a player, a style that was best exemplified in her 1992 French Open defeat of Steffi Graf. It was this ability to overpower opponents, by generating fierce groundstrokes,which formed the basis for Marion’s development, aidedby her unique combination of two-handed back and forehands.
Throughout her professional career, Marion relied on these devastating two-handed groundstrokes to dominate opponents, supported by her unusually aggressive return of serve. Towards the end of her career, Marion made a concerted effort to improve her court coverage and movement in a bid to win an elusive Grand Slam.
Marion often talks about the close relationship she shares with her father. The longevity of their partnership as coach and player is a testament to their bond as father and daughter;an understanding and respect Marion credits for her illustrious career.
Marion Bartoli's career as a tennis player began in earnest at the age of 16 when she began enteringtournaments regularly. Success would have to wait until she was 18, winning two ITF events and gaining a wildcard entry into the 2001 French Open. Despite losing in the first round, Marion would go on to win another two ITF events in the following year, qualifying for the US Open and a second successive French Open.
The 2002 US Open was the first time Marion made it past the first round, and the first time she had defeated a player in the top 100 at the time, Aranthe Sanchez Vicario. She made it through to the third round before finally being ousted by Lindsay Davenport.
The 2003 Australian Open was another milestone, as Marion qualified for a Grand Slam based on rankings for the first time. She followed that by making her first Wimbledon in the same year, ending in a first round exit. She was not to know at the time, but it would be the stage for her greatest career triumph.
In 2004 Marion achieved another personal milestone, representing France in the Fed Cup, helping complete a 5-0 demolition of Spain in the semi-finals. Despite losing to Russia in the final, Marion played a key role in France’s bid for Fed Cup glory.
The following year saw Marion reach the 3rd round of the US Open for the second time. Despite exiting at the same stage, she went on to reach two WTA event semi-finals for the season.
At 21, Marion won her first senior title in Auckland, defeating heavily favoured Vera Zvonareva. She followed that success by winning her second WTA event at the Japan Openin 2006, signalling her intentions to join the top echelon of women’s tennis.
The 2007 season proved to be Marion's big breakthrough, reaching the final of Wimbledon after upsetting highly fancied Justine Henin in the semi-final. While she eventually lost out to Venus Williams in the final, her success was an indication that her game was suited to take advantage of the quicker grass courts.
Bartoli's next major triumph came in 2009, winning her fourth WTA title in Monterrey. She won her fifth title shortly after in Stanford, defeating Venus Williams in the final.
By 2010, Marion had established herself as one of the top women's players on the circuit, maintaining a ranking in the top 20 while seeding considerably higher for Grand Slams. In 2011, Marion won the lead up tournament to Wimbledon, the Aegon International, beating Petra Kvitova in the final. At Wimbledon, she defeated Serena Williams in the fourth round, a match Marion labels as her greatest ever victory. However, she was defeated in the quarterfinal by Sabine Lisicki, an opponent she would meet again at Wimbledon in very different circumstances a few years later.
Marion's 2011 season proved to be her most productive, winning another title in Osaka, before taking out the Year End Championships in Istanbul, defeating ViktoriaAzarenka in the final. She would end the year ranked 9th in the world, reaching 5 finals and winning two titles.
In 2012 she reached the quarter final of the US Open, reaching another milestone having been to at least the quarterfinal stage of every Grand Slam.
All the success Marion had during her career culminated in her greatest triumph as a professional tennis player during the 2013 season. Without dropping a single set in the tournament, Marion became the 2013 Wimbledon Champion after defeating Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-4 in the final. Her journey, which had started at the tender age of six, ended in the fairy-tale scenario that she could only have dreamed about as a young girl. Her work ethic and determination to succeed had paid off, crowned with the most prestigious trophy in the sport.
In addition to her achievements in singles tennis, Marion had a distinguished career in doubles, winning 3 WTA tournaments and 6 ITF events during her career.
Shortly after her triumph, Marion announced her retirement from tennis, citing the toll that injuries had taken on her, and the unbearable pain that came with it. Marion reflected on this during her final press conference, saying "I made my dream a reality and it will stay forever with me, but now my body just can't cope with everything."
Bartoli was named the 2013 Champion of Champions (in the France female category); an esteemed accolade awarded by the influential French sports daily, L'Equipe.
- • Nationality: French
- • Birthdate: October 2, 1984
- • Birthplace: Le Puy-en-Velay, France
- • Residence: Geneva, Switzerland
- • Turned proPro (2002)/Retired (August 14, 2013)
- • StyleRight-handed (two-handed both sides)
- • Grand Slam win-loss record78-46
- • Grand Slam finalsWimbledon (2007, 2013)
- • Career win-loss record490-299
- • Career titles8 WTA, 6 ITF
- • Best resultWimbledon Champions (2013)
- • Doubles win-loss record117-82
- • Doubles career titles3 WTA, 1 ITF
- • International recordFed Cup (Final 2004), Hopman Cup (Final 2012)