Bar­toli bids adieu

Body can’t take the pound­ing, says Wim­ble­don cham­pion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By REUTERS in Cincinnati, Ohio

Wim­ble­don cham­pion bids sud­den and poignant farewell.

Hav­ing re­al­ized a life­long dream by claim­ing the Wim­ble­don ti­tle, Marion Bar­toli de­cided she had noth­ing left to give on Wed­nes­day, shock­ing the world of ten­nis by bid­ding a sud­den and poignant farewell to the sport.

Just six weeks e a r l i e r, the 28-year-old French­woman had shed tears of joy as she soaked up the ap­plause fol­low­ing her straight sets win over Ger­many’s Sabine Lisicki in the Wim­ble­don fi­nal to claim her first and only Grand Slam ti­tle.

The toast of France, Bar­toli was on top of the sport­ing world but came crash­ing back down to earth on Wed­nes­day when a sec­ond-round loss to Ro­ma­nian Si­mona Halep at the Western and South­ern Open was enough to con­vince her it was time to quit.

“Well, it’s never easy and ob­vi­ously there is never a time to say it, but that was ac­tu­ally the last match of my ca­reer. Sorry,” the world No 7 said with tears pour­ing from her eyes.

“It’s time for me to re­tire and to call it a ca­reer. I feel it is time for me to walk away.

“My body, I just can’t do it any­more.”

Bar­toli had of­fered no hint that she was con­tem­plat­ing re­tire­ment and ap­peared fo­cused on pre­par­ing for the up­com­ing US Open, where she had her best Grand Slam re­sult last sea­son by reach­ing the quar­ter­fi­nals.

But the loss to Halep per­suaded the cir­cum­spect French­woman that the time was ripe to hang up her racket and as the crowds left the sta­dium and headed out into the night, Bar­toli did like­wise to start a new life.

“You never kind of know be­fore it’s go­ing to be your last match but I felt that way af­ter the match. I felt I just couldn’t do this any­more,” Bar­toli said. “Af­ter one set, my whole body was in pain.

“You know, ev­ery­one will re­mem­ber my Wim­ble­don ti­tle. No one will re­mem­ber the last match I played here.

“There are so many things to do in life rather than play­ing ten­nis, so I’m sure I will find some­thing.”

An eight- time win­ner on the WTA Tour, Bar­toli played in ev­ery Grand Slam since the 2002 US Open and was seen as one of the sport’s more durable com­peti­tors.

But she made it clear that 13 years on the cir­cuit had taken a heavy toll and it was a price she was no longer will­ing to pay.

“I’ve been al­ready through a lot of in­juries since the be­gin­ning of the year,” she said. “I’ve been on the tour for so long and I re­ally pushed through and left it all (out there) dur­ing that Wim­ble­don.

“I re­ally felt I gave all the en­ergy I have left in­side my body.

“I have pain every­where af­ter 45 min­utes or an hour of play.

“I’ve been do­ing this for so long ... it’s just body-wise I just can’t do it any­more.”

The de­ci­sion to re­tire was made eas­ier by the fact Bar­toli had bat­tled long enough to re­al­ize her dream of be­com­ing a Grand Slam cham­pion.

Af­ter win­ning Wim­ble­don, Bar­toli said it had been her dream since she was six years old to hold the tro­phy.

For 13 years and through 47 Grand Slam tour­na­ments Bar­toli had chased that sin­gu­lar dream and fi­nally made it a re­al­ity but in do­ing so had sac­ri­ficed ev­ery­thing she had to of­fer.

“It’s hard to ex­plain, but when you dreamed about some­thing for so long and you have been on the tour for many, many, many years and you have been through ups and downs and highs and lows,” said Bar­toli, strug­gling to re­gain her com­po­sure, about her tra­vails.

“My body was re­ally start­ing to fall apart and I was able to keep it to­gether … with a lot of pain, through­out this Wim­ble­don, and make it hap­pen.

“That was prob­a­bly the last lit­tle bit of some­thing that was left in­side me.

“I made my dream a re­al­ity and it will stay with me for­ever.”

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