Injuries force Wimbledon champ Bartoli to retire
CINCINNATI — French tennis star Marion Bartoli made a shock retirement announcement Wednesday, ending her career at the top of her game just six weeks after winning Wimbledon.
Citing a string of injuries, Bartoli dropped the bombshell shortly after losing in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters to Simona Halep.
Bartoli, who is currently ranked a career-high seventh in the world, suffered a stunning 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 defeat to the 21-year-old Romanian.
“It’s time for me to retire and to call it a career. I feel it’s time for me to walk away,” said the 28-year-old as she wiped away tears.
The announcement comes just two weeks before Bartoli was scheduled to compete in the US Open in New York.
Bartoli said Wimbledon helped her reach her goal of winning a Grand Slam but also took a toll on her physical and mental well-being.
“I’ve been a tennis player for a long time, and I had the chance to make my biggest dream a reality,” said Bartoli, who won more than $11 million in prize money during her 13-year career.
“I felt I really, really pushed through the ultimate limits to make it happen. But now I just can’t do it anymore,” she said.
“I’ve been through a lot of injuries since the beginning of the year. I really pushed through and left it all during … Wimbledon.”
“I really felt I gave all the energy I have left inside my body. It (Wimbledon) will stay forever with me, but now my body just can’t cope with everything,” she added.
Bartoli, who turned professional in 2000, has battled a series of injuries over the past few years and has played just three matches since her Wimbledon victory.
She won a match last week in Toronto over American Lauren Davis but lost to 33rd-ranked Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova the next day.
“I have pain everywhere after 45 minutes or an hour of play,” Bartoli said. “I’ve been doing this for so long … body-wise I just can’t do it anymore.”
For the past several years, Bartoli has been France’s best female player by far.
Besides 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.
“It’s been a tough decision to take, I don’t take this easily,” she said.
Simply walking was now difficult for her, Bartoli said, adding that her hips and lower back also bothered her almost constantly.
“My Achilles is hurting me a lot, so I can’t really walk normally after a match like that, especially on the hard court when the surface is so hard,” she said.
“And my shoulder and my hips and my lower back. My body is just done.”
The player known for her quirky mannerisms and non-stop fidgeting on the court, said she spoke to her family, including her father, about the decision by phone.
“He knows, more than anyone, how much I worked and what I did to make it happen, to make my dream a reality,” she said.
“He is proud of me. He is proud of what I did and he kind of knew I just couldn’t do it anymore. He kind of felt it.”
Bartoli has never been one to do things the easy way.
She grew up outside the tennis mainstream, coached by her father Walter, a doctor who had no background in the sport and yet gave up his job to teach his daughter how to become a professional.
Walter constructed home-made contraptions to help with her practice sessions, and her court positioning inside the baseline is a legacy of her days learning the game in the Haute-Loire region of France on a tiny court.
Earlier this year, Bartoli ended her coaching partnership with her father and went through several different trainers, with the most recent being former world number one and French compatriot Amelie Mauresmo.
Bartoli’s decision caught many by surprise and lit up social media.
“Crazy to wake up hearing @bartoli_marion retiring but understand the feeling … Congrats on a great career!” tweeted Kim Clijsters, former Belgian Grand Slam champion.
Bartoli, who has a high IQ of 175, didn’t say what she plans to do next.
But she insists it is the right time to move on.
“I’m sure I will find something. I just need a bit of time to kind of settle down,” she said.
“I have the right to do something else as well. I’ve been playing for a long, long time, and it’s time for me now. It is.”