July 6, 2013
Marion Bartoli beats Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-4
There was one last twist in the extraordinary story of Wimbledon’s women this year.
It was unimaginably cruel, though we must remember to be happy for the winner.
There was always the suspicion, even at the back of the most romantic of minds, that Marion Bartoli had what it took to steamroller Sabine Lisicki.
It just required the French woman to find her rhythm first.
That’s what happened, to gasps of horror from a Centre Court crowd which had anticipated a battling contest, probably over three sets.
The first set was over in the blink of an eye. The second set threatened to go the same way, until Sabine could hardly see through her own eyes for tears.
Lisicki was supposed to be the emotional story, but not like this. She was meant to be the rightful winner, the woman who had lit up Wimbledon with her smile, ever since the day she had dumped hot favourite Serena Williams out of the tournament.
Most people wanted to see her take the title because they felt she deserved it.
But anyone who remembered the way Bartoli destroyed hot favourite Justine Henin to reach her first final a few years ago was unlikely to write Marion off.
She is the sort of player who can either produce drab, forgettable form…or suddenly come to life with an explosion of powerful brilliance just when she needs it.
Bartoli knew she wasn’t the one who had captured Wimbledon hearts, though she had amused us by revealing her ability to fall asleep in the locker room just before matches.
“Dozy” Marion had woken up in time to sail through her side of the draw though – almost under the radar. So if she came to court refreshed, and could get her shots off first, she wasn’t going to be afraid of Lisicki.
Poor Sabine. She showed so much courage and radiance throughout the tournament, and then wilted in the Centre Court sunshine as though shrunk by the sheer magnitude of the occasion – a Wimbledon final.
Before she knew it she had lost the first set 6-1. She was the one who had been caught napping. And although she came out fighting at the start of the second, she simply couldn’t turn the tide.
Bartoli was too confident, too focused, too determined to maintain her superiority.
When Sabine realised it, she simply fell to pieces for too long. Marion almost choked when she saw the finishing tape. But by then she was too far ahead.
So we must salute Bartoli, the woman who says she has had misery of her own to contend with in her personal life recently.
Now Marion is Wimbledon champion. And she has every right to be happy.
We all shared Lisicki’s pain yesterday. We must hope that she too can learn from losing a Wimbledon final – and come back one day, strong enough to emerge triumphant.