August 15, 2013 by Parveer Mann
Tennis is not unlike other professional sports where athletes can have drawn out retirements. There is usually a final year, tournament or match that we can all prepare for. On Wednesday, Marion Bartoli deprived everyone that final countdown when she surprisingly announced that see would be leaving the game.
Only five weeks after her Wimbledon triumph, Bartoli admitted in an emotional press conference that she had achieved all she could and that chronic injuries had made the decision necessary. Known for her uncanny intelligence, Marion must know that she leaves the game as a rarified few have. She now joins the likes of Pete Sampras (2002) and Billie Jean King (1975) to leave directly after winning a Grand Slam. However, leaving anything especially after reaching the pinnacle must come at an emotional price that Bartoli will now have to manage.
Were there any signs?
When Marion returned after her Wimbledon break in Toronto last week, she was met by fellow players and fans ready to congratulate her. She was being vaunted as a player who was the standard bearer for what work ethic and perseverance can achieve after 13 years on tour. Her week began easily enough with a win over Lauren Davis before a third round withdrawal (neither surprising nor particularly noteworthy as she still hung around the city to make an appearance during a Sampras exhibition match).
The fact that she showed up and played Cincinnati made no one speculate that a decision like this was on the horizon. She had already talked about travelling to New Haven and New York that every journalist and fan I follow was very surprised by Bartoli’s decision.
Will there be regrets?
The follow-up articles to the announcement were already being written this morning and one that caught my eye was a Reuter’s piece that quoted Guy Forget and Goran Ivanisevic claiming that Marion would regret not playing this next year. Goran pointed to his experience of not playing at Wimbledon in 2002 as defending champion (due to injury). I’m sure Bartoli will have that same feeling next June but she knows after 13 years that nothing was guaranteed and her decision was hers to make. I hope she does return to Wimbledon and Tennis in some capacity by next year if only to receive that warm welcome she deserves.
It’s really funny how stories happen, I’d intended to write about Novak Djokovic and his chance at winning the career Masters Series this year in Cincinnati. But, that was obviously sidetracked by Marion and it only made sense to change my story for a player who ended hers for now.