Bartoli of France defeats Lisicki for Wimbledon title
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Marion Bartoli defeated Sabine Lisicki for the Wimbledon title, winning France's first major tennis championship since 2006.
Bartoli beat the No. 23 seed 6-1, 6-4, on Centre Court at the All England Club in southwest London. She dominated the German, breaking her serve five times and winning about two- thirds of baseline points.
A runner-up up to Venus Williams in 2007, No. 15 Bartoli is the first women to win the Wimbledon title in the Open era without facing a top-10 seeded opponent. She's the first player from France to clinch a major championship since Amelie Mauresmo, one of her coaches, won Wimbledon seven years ago.
Her victory comes after months of struggling with illness and injury. Bartoli, who this week said her body had been "cracking up all over the place," earlier in the season, quit a tournament in Miami in March with a left-foot injury, and withdrew from Rome a month later with a right ankle ailment. Her ankle still bothered her during last month's French Open, where she lost in the third round. On grass, she withdrew from Birmingham and won one match in Eastbourne before pulling out with a viral illness.
Both players had a nervous start, each getting broken on a double fault. Struggling to get a first serve in, Lisicki got broken for a second time as she netted a backhand to go down 3-1.
Despite initially leading 40-15, Lisicki dropped serve for a third time to go down 5-1 as Bartoli dominated the rallies and the German made a string of unforced errors. Bartoli easily served out the first set 6-1 on yet another unforced error by Lisicki, who had 14 in the period compared to four by her opponent.
After 35 minutes of play, Lisicki finally held in the opening game of the second set as the crowd cheered loudly. Lisicki squandered two opportunities to break with a pair of wayward ground strokes. Saving two more break points with powerful shots struck from inside the baseline aimed at her opponent's feet, Bartoli held for 1-1.
Once again, Lisicki's serve faltered as she faced three break points in the next game. A drop shot that was too short was punished as Bartoli took a 2-1 lead.
Serving at 3-1 down, Lisicki let her head drop after she produced two double faults in one game and failed to find an answer to Bartoli's accurate ground strokes and cross courts shots that frequently took her out of the court.
Serving to stay in the championship, the crowd gave Lisicki another cheer. A forehand error handed Bartoli two match points, which Lisicki saved with a backhand volley and a service winner. A third one followed, only for Bartoli to net a backhand. Lisicki shouted to herself in German as she held with a 115 miles-per-hour serve.
She kept momentum, breaking to move to 3-5. Playing more aggressively, she held and pumped her fist.
Still, Bartoli could serve for the match. She got a match point, her fourth, with a cross court shot, and won with an ace. She climbed into the players box to hug her family, friends, and coaches.
Bartoli was introduced to tennis when she was six years old by her father Walter, a doctor who has applied some of his medical knowledge to hone his daughter's unusual technique. She has been working with Mauresmo, now France's Federation Cup captain, at Wimbledon, after being coached for most of her career by her father.
An unorthodox player both on and off the court, Bartoli is the first double-handed woman to win Wimbledon since tennis turned professional in 1968. She's modeled her technique on that of her idol Monica Seles, who won nine major singles titles hitting with both hands off both wings.
During practice sessions at nearby Aorangi Park at Wimbledon, Bartoli has frequently used elastic bands tied around on her ankles while hitting dozens of air shots in a row. During matches, she practices her ground strokes in between points, bounces up and down and fist pumps after nearly every shot won.
Bartoli's victory comes after a tumultuous two weeks at Wimbledon, with the men's and women's draws losing half of the players in the top 10 — including former champion Maria Sharapova of Russia and Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus — before the third round because of injuries and upsets.
The highest seed the 28-year-old Bartoli faced on her way to her second Wimbledon final was No. 17 Sloane Stephens of the U.S. in the quarterfinals.
Lisicki, 23, had reached the final having staged the biggest upset of the tournament as she ousted five-time Wimbledon champion and French Open winner Serena Williams in the fourth round. With a game built around a booming serve of about 120 miles-per-hour and powerful groundstrokes, the right-hander has beaten the reigning French Open champion in four of the past five years at Wimbledon.
Lisicki was the first German woman playing for the Wimbledon title since Steffi Graf — who won seven times on the London grass courts — reached her last final in 1999, where she lost to Lindsay Davenport. Her win at Roland Garros in the same year remains the last major singles title for a German player.
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