WIMBLEDON, England — Yes, it was a victory for quirk. For the weird. For the unconventional. And for a Wimbledon that has seen wacky result after wacky result, who else could be the face of the tournament but a 28-year-old Marion Bartoli, the fighting Frenchwoman who owned the moment and stood tall while her younger opponent, 23-year-old Sabine Lisicki, crumbled?
When Lisicki broke Bartoli in the first game of the match, Bartoli shrugged it off to win six straight games. When Lisicki was trying to serve through her tears after falling behind again in the second set, Bartoli just kept cracking winners. And when Lisicki reeled off three straight games to breathe life into the match and keep her hopes alive, Bartoli stepped up to the line and held at love. Championship point ended on an ace. Not even Bartoli the Dreamer could imagine it would finish this way.
“That was the perfect day,” Bartoli said. “It was sunny. It was beautiful. Centre Court Wimbledon, it was packed. I won in two sets. I didn’t drop a set for the whole championship. Even in my perfect dream I couldn’t have dreamed a perfect moment like that. That is beyond perfection.”
But look past the unexpected and the obsession over Bartoli’s unorthodox, well, everything, and this was a victory for perseverance. Bartoli didn’t come out of nowhere. She is not a fresh-faced new name or a talented but random one-off. Her two-fisted, twitchy game has helped her reach the quarterfinals or better at all four Grand Slam tournaments. She’s been ranked in the top 20 for every week for the last six years. She’s defeated big names, such as Serena and Venus Williams, Justine Henin and Victoria Azarenka, And she’s been around the tour long enough to know that winning streaks, rankings and money don’t matter anymore. She’s all about the Slams. And now she finally got hers.
“I don’t know if you can really realize, but for a tennis player, you start to play like at 5 or 6 years old,” she said. “When you decide to turn pro, your dream is to win a Grand Slam. You dream about it every single day. You think about it every single day. So when it happens, you feel like you’ve achieve something that you dream about for maybe a million hours.
“You went through pain, you went through tears, you went through low moments, and actually it happened. Those five, 10 seconds before you shake the hands of your opponent, you feel like you’re almost not walking any more on earth. You’re really flying.”
Here are some of our favorite photos from the women’s final. Fly, Marion. Fly.
The moment of shock. She still can’t believe she did it. “Just to finish on an ace to win Wimbledon and you saw the chalk come out of the line,” Bartoli said. “I could have seen it in slow motion. I could see the ball landing, the chalk come out, it’s an ace, and I’ve just won Wimbledon. You can’t describe that kind of feeling. You cannot put any words what I feel in this moment. I can’t believe I won Wimbledon this year. We’ll have to see the pictures, to see the match again on DVD to kind of starting to realize it.” (Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)
The spirit of Agnieszka Radwanska lives on. (Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images)
Bartoli became the first woman in the Open era to win Wimbledon hitting with both hands on both the forehand and backhand sides. That doesn’t mean she didn’t go to the one-hander every once in a while. You gotta do what you gotta do to win Wimbledon. (Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images)
Lisicki should take great confidence from these last two weeks into the hard-court season. She’s rarely been able to replicate her Wimbledon success elsewhere, but she’ll be one to watch at the U.S. Open. “I think I’ll take a good rest to recover my body, to give it all the energy back and then prepare well for the hard-court season, which I’m looking forward to,” she said. (Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
The ladies’ locker room isn’t as catty as people like to make it out to be. Great sportsmanship from the two, as Bartoli put her arm around Lisicki’s shoulder as they walked off court. (Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images)
Bartoli’s title run came out of nowhere, given her 2013 results. She had not won more than two matches in any tournament coming into Wimbledon. Asked for an explanation, Bartoli laughed. “Well, that’s me.” (Getty Images)
It was tough to watch at times, but Lisicki’s nerves seized on her throughout the match. “For me, there was no pressure,” Lisicki said. “It was just I was a bit sad that I couldn’t perform the way I can. So that was basically it.” (AFP/Getty Images)