Pete Sampras went 7 for 7 in Wimbledon finals, winning the titles from 1993-95 and 1997-2000. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
STANFORD, Calif. — What was turning out to be a nice competitive affair between two legends ended when Pete Sampras was forced to retire with a calf injury to Michael Chang on Wednesday night in a legends exhibition at the Bank of the West Classic. And we all have Marion Bartoli to blame.
Bartoli, a champion here in 2009, saw a dream fulfilled earlier in the afternoon when she got the call to help warm up Sampras in advance of his match. Giddy like a schoolgirl, Bartoli stepped up to the challenge, showing off her flat power on Stanford’s quick courts, much to the amusement and bewilderment of Sampras.
“I’ve dreamed of this since I was 6 years old,” Bartoli said, laughing, never hiding her idol worship.
And, to her credit, she left a lasting mark on Sampras.
“Tell her it’s her fault,” Sampras said with a laugh after the match as he spoke to reporters with his left calf iced and elevated from the locker room. “Make her feel really bad. She was grinding and hitting the balls really hard and I had just got off the plane.
“The hit was a little too much for me, that’s probably why I hurt my calf. So you can write that Marion was the reason why.
“No, don’t,” he laughed. “It’ll crush her.”
He’s probably right.
Despite the injury, which has forced him out of any further exhibition matches at the Bank of the West (he was scheduled to play Jim Courier on Thursday), Sampras was in good spirits and happy to talk about the two newly minted Wimbledon champions, Roger Federer and Serena Williams. Sampras, who now shares the record of seven Wimbledon titles with Federer, says he watched the last two sets of the men’s final and wasn’t all too surprised by what he saw.