Tennis: Bartoli looks to US Open

By Steven Griffiths

Wimbledon win stunning comeback after trauma of changing coaches earlier in year.

Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli feels her perfect day on Centre Court could be just the start of another remarkable chapter in one of the more unlikely tennis success stories.

Bartoli romped to her first Grand Slam title yesterday as the French 15th seed thrashed Germany's Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-4 in the Wimbledon final.

The 28-year-old, beaten by Venus Williams in her only previous Grand Slam final at Wimbledon in 2007, is the fifth oldest woman to become a first-time major winner in the Open Era.

It was an incredible moment for Bartoli, whose career had been on a downward spiral in recent years and hit rock bottom in February when she struggled with the emotional decision to move on from her dad Walter, who had coached her since childhood.

She eventually turned to former Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo for help after failing to strike up a rapport with a series of coaches and the transformation has been swift and stunningly successful.

With a first Grand Slam crown secured, Bartoli, who celebrated her victory by clambering into the players' box to embrace her father and Mauresmo, hopes the second phase of her career provides more of the success that seemed so elusive.

"Of course I'm going to try my hardest to get some more. Now that I get one, I definitely believe I can get more of them," she said.

"But I just want to enjoy this one because I haven't still realised I'm really the Wimbledon champion.

"It will take me some few days. And actually when I do realise what I've done then I will maybe think about the US Open and getting a shot over there." Bartoli has never been one to do things the easy way. She grew up outside the tennis mainstream, coached by her doctor father who had no background in the sport and yet gave up his job to teach his daughter how to become a professional.

Throughout her career Bartoli's game has been marked by bizarre routines as she jumps, skips, shuffles and twirls her racket before serving or returning. She has never been afraid to speak her mind, falling out with French tennis chiefs who banned her from last year's Olympics over their refusal to let Walter coach her while she was representing her country on Fed Cup duty.

But Bartoli is adamant her intense and passionate personality is an essential part of her game and won't be dulled by her success. "Going through those hard moments makes this one even better," she said. "It will not change me as a person. It's always been a part of my personality to be different. I think being just like the others is kind of boring."

After so many disappointments during her chequered career, Bartoli admitted the moment of victory against Lisicki felt even better than she could ever have imagined.

"Those five, 10 seconds before you shake the hands of your opponent, you felt like you're almost not walking any more on earth. You're really flying.

"To share this moment with my dad was the perfect day."

- AFP

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