/ Tennis

Marion Bartoli admits she may make a return to tennis

Updated: Sunday, 25 Aug 2013 19:35 | Comments

Marion Bartoli arrives for the press conference earlier today
Marion Bartoli arrives for the press conference earlier today

Marion Bartoli has softened her stance on a possible comeback to never say never.

In the immediate aftermath of her shock decision to retire, which came just 40 days after she won Wimbledon, the Frenchwoman was adamant she would not change her mind.

Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters and Martina Hingis - now back in the game for a third time - have all returned to the tour after spells in retirement in recent years, and Bartoli has not yet asked to be taken out of the rankings.

She insisted she has no regrets over her decision, and is greatly enjoying exploring New York as a tourist, but has left the door ajar.

"I haven't even thought about (the retirement) since then," she said.

"I'm just enjoying so much the things I can do every day that I didn't have time to do when I was a tennis player. I feel very good about it.

"You never know what's going to happen. I'm still in the rankings and I think I will be there until the end of the year and then we will see.

"It's pretty hard to say I will never come back."

Bartoli's decision came completely out of the blue, for the 28-year-old as well as everyone else.

She had not thought about retiring before losing to Simona Halep in Cincinnati, after which she felt so strongly she could not carry on because of the physical toll on her body that she quit on the spot.

At a press conference in New York, Bartoli said any decision to come out of retirement would have to come purely from within her, and insisted she will not find it difficult living without such highs as she experienced at Wimbledon.

"Even for me, it's pretty hard to believe that I did it" - Marion Bartoli

"I think it will probably come from me - my deep desire to remake it or not," she said.

"It's really hard for someone outside to understand, starting from six years old when you have to hit probably two million balls before becoming a pro tennis player, and everything you have to go through.

"I'm someone who is not trying to repeat the sort of emotion I lived at Wimbledon because obviously it's a quest for something that's impossible.

"I'm someone who is really pleased with something very simple. As long as I'm waking up every morning feeling one of the happiest people on this planet, that is the most important thing."

Bartoli, who is as charming and eloquent off the court as she is eccentric on it, believes it was her destiny to win Wimbledon, becoming one of the most surprising champions in the tournament's history.

But she admits she still has to pinch herself, saying: "It was beyond a dream for me

"In the first six months of the year I didn't win more than two matches in one tournament. Even for me, it's pretty hard to believe that I did it."

Bartoli revealed she will be in the Royal Box for the first Tuesday of Wimbledon, when she would have opened proceedings on Centre Court as defending champion.

She expects Sabine Lisicki, who she beat in the final, to take that honour, and she said: "I think I will be totally happy for Sabine.

"First because she is a great friend of mine, second because I have nothing to regret, and because the name that is on the 2013 Wimbledon trophy is mine."

Bartoli's Wimbledon success should give plenty of players who are in the US Open draw hope that they, too, can pull off an unlikely grand slam victory.

But Serena Williams is a heavy favourite and second seed Victoria Azarenka is viewed as the only player who is likely to be able to stop the American winning a fifth title in New York.

Azarenka had the perfect tonic last weekend when she beat Williams in the final in Cincinnati, her second win over her rival this year, but she was keen to play down the importance of that result.

"It gives you great confidence," she said. "But I always think that the new week is the new story. You can always take the best out of what happened last week and six months ago.

"So I will definitely take that into consideration but it's the US Open, Serena is the number one player in the world, defending champion here, we all start kind of from zero."

Azarenka and Williams played one of the best women's grand slam finals in years 12 months ago, the American just edging it 7-5 in the third set.

It is not something Azarenka will dwell on as she looks to go one better, but it is a match she considers one of her most important.

"I never look back, really," she said. "My head doesn't spin all the way back.

"It will always be a special moment, for sure, because I felt like that whole tournament and that final match left a big mark on my future career. I still feel that way."

Williams begins the defence of her title tomorrow in the night session against former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone while Agnieszka Radwanska, seeded third in the absence of the injured Maria Sharapova, opens proceedings on Arthur Ashe against Silvia Soler-Espinosa.

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