July 6, 2013 by Parveer Mann
When the cameras panned to Marion Bartoli late in the second set, you could really start to see her accentuate those famous hops and the practice strokes after the lead had become comfortable. This unorthodox ritual that usually draws the most attention when Bartoli is on court seemed to be just part of the equation on this day. In raising her first Venus Rosewater Dish after a lifetime of preparation and practice, the entire equation was complete.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Her first shot in the spotlight came way back at Wimbledon in 2007 when she surprisingly beat world number one, Justine Henin in the semifinals before facing another 23 seed, Venus Williams. On that occasion, she was outclassed by a champion who would go on to win her fifth title the next year and it seemed clear that it was not Marion’s time. Not to suggest that at that time everyone believed that her time would come.
It happens in sport, not every runner-up gets a chance to become a champion. The one thing that an athlete can control is remaining focused and driven to that goal. For Bartoli, the constant has always been her uncanny practice regimen that was developed with the help of her father. Her dad who had been her primary coach until recently modeled her game after the great Monica Seles to ensure that her groundstrokes would remain consistent in any situation.
There pairing has been one of the most dynamic on tour for the last 10 years and has been great on a pure entertainment level for those watching. However, the most impressive part has been how both have approached the game with such analytical precision that you could never argue that Marion was unprepared to hit any possible shot. It may have been the most validating picture of the final when Bartoli embraced her father in the player’s box after her win.
Not Lisicki’s Day
I know some of you gravitated to the story that Sabine Lisicki had created over this fortnight. I’ve been a fan of hers for a while and her victories over Serena Williams and Aga Radwanska were outstanding for sheer drama alone. Her big serve and power forehand are intimidating weapons that seem to awaken every time Wimbledon comes around (Four QF’s or better in last five years). Those tools were simply less effective during the final and the pressure of the moment seemed to hold her back.
At only 23, she should look to Bartoli’s work ethic as an example for what it takes to get back to big stage again. It will not only make her a better player in the next Grand Slam final but prepare her to be better and smarter every time she takes the court. As Marion taught us, you need to be ready when your shot comes and in my books that mantra is simply brilliant.