WTA (Women's Tennis Association)

‘Tennis memories kept me alive during illness,’ says Marion Bartoli of her comeback

The 2013 Wimbledon champion explains why she is returning, having suffered a mysterious disease that made her fear for her life

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 December, 2017, 12:51pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 December, 2017, 12:51pm

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli said that she first considered making a professional comeback while suffering from a mystery illness last year.

The Frenchwoman was forced to pull out of an exhibition event at Wimbledon last year because of the virus, which medical experts said was so rare they had no name for it.

But on Tuesday, Bartoli announced that she would return to the WTA Tour in 2018, aiming to be ready for the Miami Open in March, after recovering from the illness despite losing 20 kilograms of weight in a matter of months.

Watch Marion Bartoli discuss her comeback

“If what happened to me in 2016 hadn’t happened, I don’t think I would have had that strong feeling of wanting to come back to the court,” the 33-year-old said.

“The start of this all came on the most difficult day of my life, when Wimbledon decided not to allow me to play the legends’ matches because they thought I could have a heart attack and die on the court.

“From then on, I swore that if one day I was healthy again, I wanted to try to relive what I had been lucky enough to live three years before when I won the tournament.

“What saved me at that time was tennis, by hanging on to the great moments that I lived on court – that’s what kept me alive.”

Bartoli’s finest moment came when she beat German Sabine Lisicki to win the 2013 Wimbledon title, but she hasn’t played since after retiring because of a shoulder injury.

The former world number seven, who was also beaten by Venus Williams in the 2007 Wimbledon final, is confident that setting a return date for March isn’t too optimistic.

“Mid-March seems realistic with the amount of training to be done,” she said. “The day I play my first match will be a huge victory after what I’ve been through, and what I do on the court is just a bonus.

“In terms of tennis, I’m at about 80-90 per cent of my level from Wimbledon 2013 and physically I’m missing about 40 per cent of that level, which at the same time is and isn’t a lot of work.”