Wimbledon 2013 was supposed to be the Serena Williams show, as it seemed almost impossible to stop indomitable American from claiming her sixth title at the All England Club.
However, this year Wimbledon appeared to be a strange tournament, especially on the women’s side: it resulted in one of the most unexpected Grand Slam finals in years as Marion Bartoli, the 15th seed, will take on No. 23 Sabine Lisicki.
The tennis Twitter world has taken to calling it #Wimbleweird and, as such, there’s no better potential winner than the quirky Marion Bartoli.
It was a truly impressive showing for Marion, who was playing in her first Wimbledon final since losing to Venus Williams in 2007. In an unpredictable year where all the heavy-hitters dropped like flies during the iconic tournament, Marion was the constant. She displayed pure grit and strength on her run to the championship, and she didn’t let up in the final.
The pair embraced warmly at the net but as Lisicki sat, head in hands, Bartoli ran to the stands to be greeted by her family and friends à la Pat Cash and Goran Ivanisevic.
“I dreamed about this moment for so long,” Bartoli said during her on-court interview.
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.”
Bartoli won six straight games in the opening set after double-faulting on her serve to hand Lisicki the first game. In the second set, the Frenchwoman reeled off five straight games. Lisicki rallied to tighten the match before losing a final game to Bartoli’s powerful serve for an ace.
Lisicki is considered the favorite after navigating a very difficult draw to make her first major final. She beat one-time Slam champions Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur, 2012 Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska and, of course, the biggest scalp in women’s tennis, Serena Williams.
The 23-year-old German is battle-tested, too, having defeated Stosur (in the third round), Williams (fourth) and Radwanska (semifinals) in three-setters, and she rallied from 0-3 down in the third set against both Radwanska and five-time champion Williams.
Bartoli has had an easier path to the final. She hasn’t lost a set yet, but the highest-ranked player she faced was No. 17 Sloane Stephens, who struggled on serve in a 6-4, 7-5 loss to the Frenchwoman in the quarterfinals.
Bartoli played her best match of the tournament in crushing No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals. It was a wonderful display of all-court tennis from Bartoli, who overwhelmed Flipkens with her power as well as her finesse, lobbing her from the baseline repeatedly with ease, reports the Sports Illustrated.
“I was just overwhelmed by the whole situation, but credit to Marion,” Lisicki said. “She’s been in this situation before and handled it well.”
Despite the loss, she’ll make about $1.2 million – not bad for a player with career earnings of $2.8 million to this point. Bartoli gets a $2.4 million winner’s share and caps off a lifelong quest.
“Maybe all the candles I’ve burned have helped me,” she said. “It’s been my dream since I was 6 years old.”
It was the 28-year-old Bartoli’s first Grand Slam championship in 47 attempts.