Thursday, August 15, 2013

"I Just Can't Do It Anymore"

by Savannah

With those words the reigning Wimbledon Champion Marion Bartoli of France retired from tennis.

marion bartoli 2013 wimbledon champion photo e101bad9-bcbe-458b-b3f9-b65b046835d4_zps6cad5f40.jpg

After retiring from a match in Toronto down 0-5, and losing to Simona Halep 6-3, 4-6, 1-6, 2013 Wimbledon Champion Marion Bartoli of France walked into her post match presser and after speaking those words retired from tennis effective immediately.

Ben Rothenberg quotes Marion as saying the following:

I’ve been already through a lot of injuries since the beginning of the year. I’ve been on the tour for so long, and I really push through and leave it all during that Wimbledon.”

She continued: “I really felt I gave all the energy I have left inside my body. I made my dream a reality, and it will stay forever with me, but now my body just can’t cope with everything. I have pain everywhere after 45 minutes or an hour of play. I’ve been doing this for so long, and, yeah, it’s just body-wise, I just can’t do it anymore.


Her eyes were red with tears when she made the announcement.

I understand.

Marion looked woefully out of shape in Toronto. I won't go so far as to say she was disheveled but she was close to it. She was gasping for air and looked to be nauseous. We can make all the snide remarks we want about her weight, her antics on court, there's a lot of material there but in the end I think it came down to being able to compete.

No one expected Marion to win Wimbledon but she played whoever stood across the net from her and ended up hoisting the Venus Rosewater Dish. She was Marion fit. Not a skinny Minnie but light enough to get around and play grass court tennis. That was not the Marion we saw in Toronto. I can't say much about her match against Halep because it was not on Center Court and the only women's matches with live coverage so far have been on that court in Cincinnati.
But that's another story for another day.

Let's not forget the withering battles Marion and her father Dr. Walter Bartoli fought with the French Tennis Federation (FFT). Or her inability to get a clothing contract until recently. What's sad is that Amélie Mauresmo seemed to be able to mediate between the warring parties and succeed in getting Marion back into the good graces of the FFT.

But with success Marion had to face the fact that she wasn't going to get a draw like she did at Wimbledon again. I won't say never would have, but it was going to be awhile. Marion had also said that it's easier to be the hunter than the hunted, and after winning Wimbledon, as Petra Kvitova has found out, you are the hunted. And everyone, competitor or not, is not able to deal with the pressures that brings.

Earlier this year Marion was casually munching a Twix candy bar during a changeover. That was not going to be tolerated any more. She's 28 now and all the exercises she and her father concocted to help her be as strong as she could with her weight, all the quirks that made Marion Marion, were going to have to be cut back. I'd say that she was already doing less of that.

Then there were the coaching changes. It seemed for awhile there that every couple of weeks she had a new coach. That is never a good sign. To me it means there is instability somewhere, that the player doesn't have anyone around to take on the world for them so that they can focus on their tennis.

There were also signs that maybe some of the problems off court were more personal and involved the man she had leaned on all of her life. To talk about that is speculation though and that is not what this post is about.

Maybe when she's had time to process things, when whatever is stopping her from being the best she can be on court has been settled in her mind she will want to come back to tennis. Some are saying that that is what will happen. I've had no personal contact with the woman so I don't know if she'll want to come back. It would be nice to see a happy, focused woman come back not the one who was so distraught after a loss she retired.

I don't think this was a hasty decision. I know last week she was saying all the right things about belonging on a tennis court and that she wanted to play a tune up or two before the US Open but what was she really thinking? No one knows except Marion and her family.

I wish her well. I hope that she finds some kind of peace within herself. She's got the money and now the leisure time to lay on a pink sand beach somewhere and study her navel. Maybe put that brain of hers to work by going back to school. The world is hers. In today's world not too many 28 year olds can say that.

marion bartoli July 2013 photo 7408e5bb-4d2a-4f9e-811b-f07ef92a3eda_zps2fb9a1ac.jpg

If she comes back, fine. If she doesn't, that's fine too.

1 comment:

Randy Burgess said...

Thoughtful post. What caught my eye this morning, over on Courtney Nuygen's blog, was this additional quote from the Bartoli presser: "A lot of the mornings it took me more than 30 minutes to be able to start to walk because of my achilles pain and the same for my shoulder."

That kind of chronic agony & self-punishment to get on court reminds me of football players and how they push their bodies to the point that ordinary life becomes difficult. The scene comes to mind from "North Dallas Forty" where the wide receiver character played by Nick Nolte wakes up and has to go through a long, long routine of painkillers and a hit off a beer and a smoke and then a hot bath before he can loosen up all his bad joints enough to feel human. If that's what Bartoli has been dealing with, then it's a smart decision to retire now rather than aggravate her joints still further. She can heal up & lead a normal life and enjoy her memories, esp. Wimbledon.

P.S. Search for "Nolte Moan" on YouTube and there's a snippet from the movie with him waking up in pain and moaning, fumbling for his painkillers and knocking them off the beside table, hobbling through his mess of an apartment bent over, etc. He makes it seem funny and sad at the same time. In real life it's not funny at all, I'm sure.