Today the most recent Ladies' Wimbledon Champion, France's Marion Bartoli, shocked the WTA and tennis fans worldwide when she abruptly retired from competitive tennis. Bartoli, coming off the biggest win of her career, winning arguably the most prestigious tournament in all of tennis, has had some skeptics disrespect and question her decision. She is 28 years old, which is very old for a woman on tour, but still has some solid years left, especially coming off Wimbledon. She's had a roller coaster year, but it's still a quick retirement after Wimbledon. To me, bashing Bartoli for walking away, is unfair and unjust.
Bartoli, after a second round loss at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, told a small group of reporters:
I have pain everywhere after 45 minutes or an hour of play...it's just body wise I just can't do it anymore. Everyone will remember my Wimbledon title. No one will remember the last match I played here. That was probably the last little bit of something that was left inside me
For all the pressures of her country, her fans, and the tour it is tremendously courageous of her to put her health and her happiness before her career. If Marion's heart is no longer in the game, and she can no longer play at her best, then I commend her on a spectacular, albeit interesting career.
It is a very fitting way for Bartoli to retire, though shocking for her peers. bartoli, who was coached by her father Walter for years, was known to use her own unique training methods. She would use elastic resistance bands connected to the back fence while running the court and hitting ground strokes. She used resistance bands to practice her serve. She unconventionally used a two handed forehand and would not check the tennis balls she received before serving. She would turn around before returns to take maniacal practice swings while constantly bouncing on her toes. It's not surprising that with all these unconventional methods that Bartoli was tested to have an IQ of 175, making her a genius. An unconventional way to retire was the only way to suit her.
I want to see someone play at their best, and if Bartoli feels her heart and body can no longer do that, then it is unfair to criticize her for her decision. I'm not saying once you feel discomfort in your body retire. As a wrestler my body at 21 years old feels physically much different than it did at 17, but I'm willing to take the discomfort because I still love the sport, and still want to play. Bartoli has played in 47 grand slam tournaments and every one since the 2002 US Open. The life of a tennis player is a grind, mentally and physically. We should praise the courage she showed to walk away from all the pressure that was on her.
Bartoli didn't talk as much about her accomplishments as a player. Long known to be one of the nicest women on tour, Bartoli said after BBC commentator John Inverdale questioned her looks:
I think if people ask, How is Marion Bartoli? They will always respond, She's a nice person. That's what I'm most proud of.
Bartoli knows there is more to life than tennis. I wish her luck in the next chapter.