At 10:30 p.m. in Cincinnati, Wimbledon Champion Marion Bartoli announced that she was retiring from tennis. Amy has more here, including quotes from Bartoli at tonight’s presser.
Marion Bartoli from tonight (GETTY) pic.twitter.com/cMsK24TZpU
— Joe Fleming (@ByJoeFleming) August 15, 2013
Shocked does not even come close to describing it.
Was actually around several French players when news of Bartoli's retirement broke. All (Mladenovic, Gasquet, Mahut, etc) totally shocked.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 15, 2013
Below, we try and process our thoughts.
This is the biggest mic drop in the history of sports.
— Brodie (@MindTheRacket) August 15, 2013
I do not understand this … until I stop to think about it and I do. There’s this, for example:
Retiring on top–few athletes choose to do it or are even in position to be able to do it. Bartoli, an original to the end, does it her way.
— Matt Zemek (@mzemek) August 15, 2013
Lindsay Davenport sounded genuinely puzzled that Bartoli would elect not to go and defend her title at Wimbledon. As in, “Showing up to defend the title is part of the honor of winning it.” But that just illustrates the difference in thought processes from two women who’ve competed at the very top of women’s tennis. Not everyone is the same, and no one is like Marion Bartoli.
Marion Bartoli reached a career high of World No. 7, something that happened just last year (that’s her current ranking, too). She won eight titles, the last one of which was Wimbledon. She raised the famous Venus Rosewater Dish at age 28, after being a pro for 13 years. She played nearly 800 matches on the WTA and ITF tour.
The point of that last paragraph is that Marion Bartoli has been through a lot, has endured the grind of being a pro tennis player for quite a while, and she’s likely to never have as much of a high as she just had by winning Wimbledon ever again. As a matter of fact, before winning Wimbledon this past July, she hadn’t won a WTA title since Osaka in 2011.
Marion Bartoli had a dream. It was to win Wimbledon. She somehow got a chance in 2007, but it slipped away. That dream had to feel pretty unattainable as she started this year’s Wimbledon. And yet, she ended up winning it.
The odds of that happening again are slim to none. And the grind of the pro tennis tours can be quite unbearable. Hence, I can understand perfectly why it was time for her to call it quits. An athlete doesn’t arrive at this decision lightly — for them, it’s like throwing themselves off a cliff. They’ve been professional athletes for a long time, and before that they were professional athletes in training. Being a pro is all they know.
I’m convinced that Marion will have a fruitful post-tennis career. She will re-invent herself much in the same way as she re-invented her serve every two or three weeks. She’ll remain an original, and a beacon of iconoclasm wherever she goes. My best wishes go out to her.
Uuuuum … wow. Okay, so now that I’ve picked my jaw off of the floor, my first reaction is that she’s going to regret this. I remember when Roddick retired last year, as shocking as that was, he had the announcement during the day, on his day off. It was after a win, not a loss. He called all of his family members so they knew it was coming. It was a rational decision.
This seems different. It’s 10:30 at night in Cincinnati. She’s just coming off the high of winning Wimbledon and the emotional and physical exhaustion that comes with it. Nothing feels good. She just lost a match. She clearly needs to take a break and regroup, but to retire? Now? It seems like a spur of the moment thing, and like something she might regret.
However, Marion has never done things conventionally, we all know that, so if this is indeed it, my next feeling is a selfish one: sadness that I never got to watch her in person or interview her. I have long dreamed of sitting down with Marion and Walter and doing a one-on-one. I wanted to experience the madness of Marion up close. But maybe I’ll still get to do that some day, even if not in competition.
Finally, I feel appreciation. I’ve always had a love for the eccentric, and therefore Bartoli has always caught my eye. She has been an inspiration.
Here are some things I’ve written about her recently:
Thanks for everything, Marion. And know that you can come back. But only if you want to.
EDIT: I wrote a few more thoughts on the subject for BR, “Marion Bartoli’s Retirement Leaves Tennis World in Shock.”