Tennis: Bartoli wins admiration of Wimbledon crowd

To listen to Marion Bartoli is to wonder how John Inverdale, or indeed anybody else, could dare to be uncharitable. She is quite possibly the most thoughtful, magnanimous and delightfully quirky ladies' champion that Wimbledon has had.

It was telling that, in the afterglow of a triumph that drew together her every childhood fantasy and earned her the not insignificant sum of £1.6 million ($3 million), she could think only of the turmoil of tearful, vanquished finalist Sabine Lisicki.

"I felt I wanted to take her in my arms at some point," Bartoli said. "I felt so sorry for her - it was hard to see her like that. To cry on court during a Wimbledon final, you must feel so lonely. The hug we had after the match was extremely sweet."

Bartoli was blissfully unaware of the swirl of publicity around her, not least Inverdale's now-notorious "not a looker" comment on BBC radio. But why should she care? She was winning more than enough admirers to bother even for a second about a bovine comment by a misguided male pundit.

Her father, too, maintained a dignified front. Walter Bartoli, her coach, had come over especially for the final and deftly sidestepped Inverdale's gaffe. "I am not angry," he said. "She is my beautiful daughter."

Bartoli, who had spent most of the second set in her 6-1 6-4 victory battling a bleeding toe, reflected: "I just saw him for that one second and said: 'Dad, did you see that blister under my big toe?' He could only say: 'You won this, I cannot believe it."'

The shock exit of Serena Williams allowed instead the anointment of a maverick like Bartoli.

"It can be boring to see the same players winning every time," she said. "If it was just Serena taking all the slams, then people might start to think: 'Why should I try?' Then they see me who is not very tall, not very fast, just a normal girl winning a grand slam. That is a good inspiration for some girls."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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