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Injuries force Bartoli to retire

Marion Bartoli (AFP)
Marion Bartoli (AFP)

Ohio - Marion Bartoli never went the conventional route, her skips and twirls, even an occasional dose of shuteye before matches, all features of the multi-faceted character who won Wimbledon only last month.

Yet, fast forward just 40 days to Wednesday's seemingly innocuous loss at the Cincinnati Open and the 28-year-old Geneva-based Frenchwoman insists it's all over and time to hang up her racket, despite being ranked a career high seventh in the world.

"It's time for me to retire and to call it a career. I feel it's time for me to walk away," said Bartoli after her loss to Romanian Simona Halep.

"I've been a tennis player for a long time, and I had the chance to make my biggest dream a reality," said Bartoli, in allusion to her Wimbledon triumph over German Sabine Lisicki which brought an eighth singles title overall.

Perseverance was one of Bartoli's chief qualities along the road as she won her first - and only - Grand Slam crown at the 47th attempt, a record in the women's game for those who have finally captured such a lofty honour.

Yet it came at a physical cost which she says was too high.

"I felt I really, really pushed through the ultimate limits to make it happen. But now I just can't do it anymore," she said.

"It (Wimbledon) will stay forever with me, but now my body just can't cope with everything," said Bartoli, who turned professional in 2000, but has suffered a variety of injury problems and has played just three matches since her Wimbledon success.

Born on October 2, 1984 in Le Puy en Velay, she moved to Geneva as she began to find her way in the game, though she owed much to the coaching techniques of her doctor-turned-tennis-coach father Walter, who introduced her to the game at six and sought to boost her hand-to-eye coordination by lobbing different sized and coloured balls at her.

A wildcard entry into the 2001 French Open saw her start her Grand Slam career - she lost in the first round - but then on her US Open debut in 2002 she defeated former Spanish star Arantxa Sanchez Vicario to score her first win over a player in the top 100.

By 2004 she was skirting with the top 50 and also netted a doubles crown in Casablanca alongside Emelie Loit while furthermore joining the France Fed Cup team - though the French suffered a final loss to Russia after she lost the doubles.

Auckland 2006 brought her first singles title after a 2005 partially blighted by injury as Bartoli blossomed with her double-handed forehand and backhand technique.

In 2007, she reached her first Grand Slam final - inspired, she said, by the presence of Piers Brosnan in the Wimbledon crowd she stunned Belgian world number one Justine Henin in the semis before Venus Williams proved a bridge too far.

Controversy saw her miss the 2012 London Olympic Games as she refused to play Fed Cup without coaching from her father and was left off the French squad.

This season brought third-round defeats at the Australian and French Opens before her star soared at the All England Club to end her long wait for Grand Slam success.

Then came the loss to Halep, and the realisation that her mission was complete and she was punishing herself for no reason.

"I have pain everywhere after 45 minutes or an hour of play. I've been doing this for so long, and body-wise I just can't do it anymore," she said.

Of Wimbledon she said: "That was probably the last little bit of something that was left inside me. It's fine. I have the right to do something else as well."

So ended the career of the woman who prepared in zen-like fashion for her Wimbledon semi win over Kirsten Flipkens by sleeping in the locker room before going on to stun Liskcki.

On that occasion she finished with an ace. Against Halep, she finished with a painful loss which told her the time had come to move on, taking her memories with her.

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