THE match may not have been a high point of the Wimbledon fortnight, but Marion Bartoli certainly saved her best for last.
The Frenchwoman had not even reached the last four of any other tournament this year, but when it mattered most she hit the heights, beating Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-4.
“I really felt I was playing probably my best match of the championship,” Bartoli said. “I was doing everything well. I was moving well. I was returning well. I mean, I really played a wonderful match. So it’s really amazing to win Wimbledon.
“It will not change me as a person, because I will always remain the same: very humble, very low key and easygoing, down to earth. But just hearing ‘Wimbledon champion,’ that kind of sounds good to me.
“You know, [it] has been my dream. I wanted that so badly. I felt the achievement of my career was to win a grand slam. Every time I was just saying my goal was to win a grand slam. It was like, dare to dream. I kept dreaming. I kept my head up. I kept working hard, and it just happened.”
Bartoli knew she did not have to be at her best to win the final, but explained she could not afford to dwell on how error-strewn Lisicki’s game was. “Honestly, I didn’t think too much about how Sabine was doing. I was just trying to focus on my own game and try to remain calm, even if I had this 5-1 lead in the second set and 15-40 and couldn’t close it out.
“Then Sabine started to play very well and come back at 5-4. I just really thought I had to hold my serve one more time.
“But just to finish on an ace to win Wimbledon and you saw the chalk come out of the line. I mean, I could have seen it in slow motion. I could see the ball landing, the chalk come out, it’s an ace, and I just win Wimbledon.
“You cannot put any words what I feel in this moment. I can’t believe I won Wimbledon this year. We’ll have to see the pictures, to see the match again on DVD, to start to realise it.”
Lisicki was crippled by nerves for much of the biggest match of her career to date. She admitted: “I was just overwhelmed by this whole situation. Credit to Marion, she’s been in this situation before and handled it well. I hope I have this opportunity again.
“Today you helped me to try and get over my nerves,” she continued, addressing the crowd. “This is my first grand slam final and I’d hoped I would have won, but I hope I get the chance one more time.”