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By Chris Oddo | Tuesday January 9, 2018

 
MARION BARTOLI

2013 Wimbledon champion tells L'equipe that revenge and desire have fueled her soon to come second act.

Photo: AP

It’s been only a year and a half since doctors told Marion Bartoli that she wasn’t well enough to compete at the legends completion at Wimbledon—a moment that hit her like a ton of bricks and one that she desperately wants to replace with warmer, fuzzier memories of tennis excellence.

Read the Full Translation of Bartoli's Interview with L'equipe Here

“I’ll never forget it,” Bartoli told L’Equipe (translation by Mark Nixon) “When the doctor told me I couldn’t play legends because my heart was so weak, I risked having a heart attack on the court, when it’s been three years since your name was on the board, it’s a punch in the face, it’s violent!”

But it wasn’t only her health that was nagging her. It was also the underlying frustration of having been in love and lost that drove a spike in Bartoli’s psyche, leaving her vulnerable and eventually emaciated in that summer.

After winning Wimbledon in 2013 and retiring later that year, Bartoli fell in love, but it wouldn’t last. And the scars from that relationship have haunted the Frenchwoman ever since.

Bartoli says his constant badgering about her weight devalued her in such a way that she lost sight of her own health. She wants to regain that part of herself—the part that can overcome obstacles, not fall prey to them.

“Every single day, in an insidious way, he made me lower than dirt,” Bartoli said. “I want to prove I can get back up again.”

She added: “When I retired, I was the happiest person in the world. Then I met my old boyfriend in 2014, and every day he told me I was fat. Every day. When he saw a thin girl on the street, he told me, “you see how she’s thin and pretty”. That wasn’t helpful.”

Bartoli plans to return with an exhibition this March before playing the Miami Open in April. She’s doing it in the hopes that she can return to past form, because playing outside of the top 100 does not sound appealing to her.

“Honestly, I’m not going to put up with playing Challengers. I played the $50K’s when I was sixteen. I’m not going to do it at thirty-three. If I’m coming back, it’s to try and play big matches on the big courts and experience those feelings.”

Bartoli believes she still needs to lose five to seven points to get to her optimal playing weight, and when she does, she fully expects to be competitive. She has received texts from Serena Williams, Monica Seles and Yannick Noah, but none from the French women currently on tour.

“I have to prove to myself at least a second time,” Bartoli said. “Not to others, but at least to myself. I let myself be destroyed by someone and I didn’t think that was possible. I let myself be swallowed up. I’m so happy when I’m on a tennis court that I’m reliving happy times every day. They make up for the unhappy times.

 

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