2013 Wimbledon champ Bartoli announces return to WTA Tour

AP
Bartoli mentioned three events she is particularly looking forward to: the French Open, the Fed Cup and, of course, Wimbledon.
AP

Marion Bartoli, the 2013 Wimbledon champion, says she is coming out of retirement and returning to the tennis tour next season.

The 33-year-old Frenchwoman made the announcement via a Twitter post on Tuesday.

"Hi, guys. I have something to tell you: I am coming back. ... It's going to be a huge challenge," Bartoli said in a video she put on Twitter. "I have still a lot of practice ahead of me, but I am hoping to be ready for March and the Miami Open."

Bartoli mentioned three events she is particularly looking forward to: the French Open, the Fed Cup and, of course, Wimbledon.

She surprisingly won her only Grand Slam title while seeded No. 15 at the All England Club four years ago. Less than two months later, after losing a match at another tournament, she abruptly retired from professional tennis.

Bartoli was an original player — and personality — during her playing career.

She hit two-fisted shots for forehands and backhands, just like her idol, Monica Seles, whom Bartoli recalled admiring as early as at only 7 years old.

Bartoli was coached by her father, a doctor, and they came up with other unique elements.

She would cross her arms before serving, never bouncing the ball before a toss. She would stand well inside the baseline to receive an opponent's serve. And she would hop in place or take practice swings between points.

Her first big breakthrough came in 2007, reaching the Wimbledon final before losing to Venus Williams.

Then came the magical two-week run to the championship there six years later. Bartoli never dropped a set and capped her fortnight with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Germany's Sabine Lisicki in the final, closing the match with an ace.

A year later, Bartoli became the first woman in 17 years who declined to try to defend her Wimbledon title.

At a news conference before the 2014 tournament, Bartoli tugged at the collar of her white top to reveal strips of blue tape providing support for her right shoulder and explained: "Literally, I can't even lift my arm every morning."

Imaginechina

Marion Bartoli of France hoists the championship trophy as she celebrates her victory over Sabine Lisicki of Germany in the Wimbledon women's final at the All England Club in London in this July 6, 2013, photo. Bartoli, who retired from professional tennis shortly after winning the title, announced her return to the WTA Tour on December 19, 2017.

That, she said, was why she harbored "definitely no regrets at all" about walking away from tennis back then.

She since moved on to other pursuits, including TV commentary, launching a shoe line and designing jewelry.

Bartoli won eight WTA Tour titles and reached a career-high ranking of seventh in 2012, before carving out a successful career as a television pundit after retiring, AFP reported.

In 2016, Bartoli suffered from a mystery virus that saw her lose 20kg of weight.

She said that she feared for her health after pulling out of an exhibition event at the All England Club ahead of Wimbledon that year.

But a month later, she said she was "on the road to recovery", after struggling with an illness that medical experts said was so rare they had no name for.

Bartoli was the last French player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament four years ago, and is the only one to have lifted a major title since Amelie Mauresmo won Wimbledon in 2006.

Her comeback is reminiscent of those made by the likes of Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, and Swiss former world No. 1 Martina Hingis.

Clijsters returned to the WTA Tour in 2009 after two years in retirement, before claiming back-to-back US Open titles and the 2011 Australian Open crown.

Hingis had plenty of success on the doubles circuit after making her second comeback in 2013, and retired for a third time earlier this year.

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