Marion Bartoli dons maiden Wimbledon crown as rival is reduced to tears
Crippling stage fright condemns Lisicki to defeat at the hands of power-serving Frenchwoman
One of the strangest Wimbledons yet produced one of its quirkiest champions - Marion Bartoli - winner of a hard-to-watch final that had the overwhelmed runner-up in near tears while the match was still going on.
France's Bartoli, whose power game bothered Sabine Lisicki as much as any of her notable eccentricities, won 6-1, 6-4 yesterday to capture her first grand slam title in her 47th appearance at a major.
"Honestly, I just can't believe it. As a little girl, I dreamt of this moment for so long," Bartoli said.
"Finishing with an ace to win Wimbledon, even in my wildest dreams I couldn't have imagined that. I'm just so happy to be holding this trophy."
She addressed Lisicki, who was shaking and in tears.
"I was there in 2007 and I missed it," said Bartoli, the runner-up to Venus Williams that year. "I know how it feels, Sabine, and I'm sure you will be there one more time. I have no doubt about it."
Indeed, the 15th-seeded Bartoli played the part of the experienced veteran. After losing serve with a pair of double-faults in the first game, she ticked off 11 of the next 12.
Lisicki broke down in floods of tears after crippling stage fright helped condemn her to defeat.
The German 23rd seed, who had beamed her way into a maiden Grand Slam final, struggled to keep her emotions in check as the match slipped away from her in the second set.
She then completely lost her composure as she addressed the Centre Court crowd after her 81-minute choke.
"I was just overwhelmed by the whole situation, but credit to Marion. She handled it perfectly, she's been on the tour for a long time and deserves this. I just hope I get another chance as well," said Lisicki, 23, who had knocked out five-time champion Serena Williams in the fourth round.
"I still love this tournament. I love the crowd, you helped me try and get over my nerves, but Marion was just too good."
Lisicki, bidding to be the first German winner at Wimbledon since Steffi Graf in 1996, sobbed openly as she turned to her father and mother, Richard and Elisabeth, who were watching from the players' box.
"I want to thank my team, they have always been there for me … we have been through so much together, there have been so many ups and downs," Lisicki said.
"I wish I had won but I hope to get the chance one more time."
Bartoli, 28, is the fifth-oldest woman to become a first-time grand slam winner in the open era, achieving it in her 47th grand slam appearance.
Jana Novotna held the previous record of 45 majors before she won her first grand slam at Wimbledon in 1998.
Six years after losing to Venus Williams in the Wimbledon final, Bartoli returned to Centre Court and finally ended her long wait for a major crown with a supreme display of power hitting.
Bartoli served the game out at love, dropping to her knees after hitting an ace on match point. She celebrated her win with an exhausting climb into the players' box where her father Walter and coach Amelie Mauresmo, the last French champion in 2006, were watching.
"Maybe a backhand winner, but just not an ace," Bartoli said when asked how she imagined she might close out her first Wimbledon title. "I've been practising my serve for so long. At least I saved it for the best moment."
She is awkward - with a jumping, twitching, fidgeting routine before each point, a service motion that includes no bouncing of the ball and a windup that begins with crossed wrists before she uncoils by arching her back, stretching her unbent arm behind her head, then tossing the ball. She hits two-handed groundstrokes from each side, and pumps her fist after almost every point.
Whatever it is, it works. She punished those groundstrokes, had no problem with Lisicki's serve, and undercut the notion that only Serena Williams can play the power game in women's tennis.
Bartoli gets a US$2.4 million winner's share and caps off a lifelong quest. "Maybe all the candles I've burned have helped me," she said.
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press