Marion Bartoli made a shock retirement announcement on Wednesday, ending her tennis career at the top of her game just six weeks after winning Wimbledon.
The French star, citing a string of injuries, 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 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 defeat to the Romanian.
“It’s time for me to retire and to call it a career. I feel it’s time for me to walk away,” the 28-year-old Bartoli said.
The French star said Wimbledon helped her reach her goal of winning a Grand Slam, but also took a toll on her physical and mental wellbeing.
“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 US$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 said.
Bartoli, who turned pro 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 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 by far France’s best female player. 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, by telephone about the decision.
“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,” she said.
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, while 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 worked with several different trainers, the most recent being former world No. 1 and French compatriot Amelie Mauresmo.
Bartoli, who has a high IQ of 175, did not 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.”