In Stunning Turnaround, Marion Bartoli Says She’s Returning to Tour

In Stunning Turnaround, Marion Bartoli Says She’s Returning to Tour


Though comebacks by Grand Slam champions in women’s tennis seem de rigueur — Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, and Lindsay Davenport are recent examples — Bartoli was adamant in 2013 that she would not return.

“I’m not like that,” she told the French news media in 2013. “I won’t come back. It’s done.”

She held firm in a 2014 interview with The New York Times: “I don’t change my mind,” she said.

But by 2015, Bartoli was polling her Twitter followers about a potential return.

In her video announcement Tuesday and in an interview with Eurosport UK, Bartoli said she was particularly excited for the French Open, Fed Cup, Wimbledon and the Olympics.

She will hold a news conference on Wednesday in Paris to further discuss her comeback.

Bartoli was a player with myriad idiosyncrasies both on the match court and practice court, including elaborate pre-service rituals and a hammering, two-handed forehand.

Bartoli beat top-seeded Henin to reach her first Wimbledon final in 2007 before losing the final in straight sets to Venus Williams. She also reached the semifinals at the French Open in 2011 and beat Serena Williams in the fourth round at Wimbledon later that year.

Though she had already established herself as a dangerous player, her lone Grand Slam title came with a bit of luck. Ranked 15th in 2013, Bartoli took advantage of a chaotic Wimbledon draw, never dropping a set in the seven matches she played against opponents ranked below her. In the final, she beat Sabine Lisicki, 6-1, 6-4. She would play only three more matches after that.

“I had to stop because of my shoulder, which was really heartbreaking,” she said in the interview with Eurosport UK. “Because when you feel you finally play at your best, you fulfill your potential, it’s not easy to just step away.”

Since retiring, Bartoli has designed clothing and jewelry, and has worked as a broadcaster in both English and French.

She dabbled in some athletic endeavors, most recently competing in the Ladies’ Invitation Doubles event at Wimbledon this year with Iva Majoli. The two struggled mightily, losing their three matches in lopsided fashion: 2-6, 2-6; 1-6, 2-6; 3-6, 0-6. She also lost both matches she played in the invitational tournament in 2015, also with Majoli. She ran the 2016 New York Marathon with a time of 5 hours 40 minutes.

Bartoli has also struggled with her health. In 2016, after dropping to an alarmingly low weight, she said she had contracted a virus during a trip in February of that year that made processing food, as well as even touching certain things, difficult. She appeared healthier this year, though still far from the fitness required of a touring professional player.

Bartoli’s return adds yet another twist to a 2018 season in women’s tennis that is already knotted with intrigue and uncertainties.

Only one of the women ranked in the top six of the WTA won a Grand Slam title last year: Second-ranked Garbiñe Muguruza, who won Wimbledon.

Serena Williams, who gave birth to a daughter in September, has entered next month’s Australian Open, where she is the defending champion — but has also apparently hedged her bets by booking a speaking role at a conference in Florida on January 23, in the middle of the tournament.

Victoria Azarenka has received a wild card to compete at the Australian Open, but remains entangled in a lengthy custody dispute over her one-year-old son, Leo, which prohibits her from traveling with him outside the state of California.

Maria Sharapova, who played only sporadically because of injuries after coming off a 15-month doping ban last April, will be unseeded at the Australian Open.

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