Current Wimbledon champion sticks to her guns to walk away from the sport.
Marion Bartoli didn’t plan her retirement from tennis just six weeks after winning Wimbledon, but the French star remained confident she had made the right decision.
“I always express my feelings, and I felt it was time,” Bartoli said on a conference call from Cincinnati some 12 hours after her stunning announcement in the wake of a second-round loss to Simona Halep in the hardcourt tournament there.
“I felt my body really couldn’t do it anymore.”
Asked when she first contemplated the drastic step, Bartoli said it was just shortly before the announcement. She spoke to her family, including her father and longtime coach, Walter, about the decision by phone.
“You don’t think about that before … it’s not like in the morning you say ‘Today, maybe I will retire.’
“It’s something that happens — when you feel the moment that’s the moment. That’s what I felt yesterday.”
Bartoli’s decision brought swift calls for her to reconsider. Former French Davis Cup and Fed Cup skipper Guy Forget was concerned that she had been too hasty.
“Being a professional player is such an exceptional job and you don’t want to look back in a few months or years later and think “why did I stop?’
“Don’t rush it, just don’t rush it. Take time, go to the beach for a few days, go running in the park, just get your head together, spend some time with your friends… don’t take such a radical decision only a few weeks after winning the biggest tournament in the world,” Forget said from the ATP Champions Tour at Knokke, Belgium.
Bartoli, however, said she had no regrets at going out at the top of her game, with her Wimbledon title still fresh and at a career-high number seven in the world rankings.
“I feel great. I feel great about myself and my decision. I’m not at all regretting anything,” she said. “I feel it was the right decision to take.”
In addition to Wimbledon, Bartoli won seven other WTA Tour titles, beginning with Auckland in 2006. Her most recent, prior to Wimbledon, were both in 2011 — at Eastbourne, England, and Osaka, Japan.
Bartoli, 28, said Wimbledon helped her reach her goal of winning a Grand Slam but also took a toll on her physical and mental well-being.
She said hip and back injuries meant it sometimes took her up to half an hour in the mornings to get herself walking normally.
After winning more than $11 million in prize money during her 13-year career, she said she never considered hanging on for another Wimbledon just in order to make the most commercially of her All England success.
“I am not halfway,” Bartoli said. “I’m either thoroughly invested in something, or I am walking away.”
Bartoli’s tearful announcement came just a fortnight before she was to compete at the US Open in New York. She said she had been touched by the swift and warm response from tournament organizers, fellow players and fans, who recognized her not only for her on-court achievements but also for “the person I was”.
“What made me cry the most was to see all the support I received from everyone, from tournament directors, from players, not only speaking about my tennis results but more about my personality and who I was.”
Asked what she thought she would miss about being a professional tennis player, Bartoli laughed a little and said “Not much, to be honest.”
She said she was looking forward to indulging an array of interests, including the classical dance she studied for years.
“Oh, gosh. I have so many things I’m interested in,” she said. “I will still be forever Wimbledon champion as well.”