WIMBLEDON: Bartoli Title is Great Moment in Individuality, but Lost Moment for Tennis

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REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

WIMBLEDON, England

Marion Bartoli climbed into the stands and hugged her father, Walter, who only politely hugged back. A few minutes later, she would interrupt her own on-court interview to say, “First of all, my dad, who is here with me today, means so much.’’

Bartoli had just won Wimbledon on Saturday, beating Serena-killer Sabine Lisicki 6-1, 6-4. And this is when a tennis player’s emotions are at their most obvious and overwhelming. They’re in your throat. Know this: Bartoli has fired her dad, her coach, twice this year alone. And now, her first act as champ is to be with him?

Meanwhile, Lisicki was crying.

How did you feel about this match? No Venus or Serena Williams and no Maria Sharapova? The hard truth for tennis is this: That was a terrible match for the sport. Terrible. For most of the match, Lisicki was in complete panic.

But not only that. Women’s tennis is desperate for stars. And this is the sport’s greatest stage, greatest opportunity. Yet with so little depth, two underdogs got here. Lisicki had a small chance to catch on in the US. Small, because I have a feeling no one was watching. But she did beat Williams, and could have been the Wimbledon champ. She is super-powerful. She is comfortable and personable in front of a camera.

And in terms of growing interest in the game, she could appeal to the average testosterone-defined fan sitting on his couch in front of the TV: She’s an attractive, powerful blonde woman in a short skirt.

Bartoli – more hard truth – is not going to sell in the US. She doesn’t have magazine looks, and plays in an ugly way.

Moment lost.

Please read the rest of the column here

 

About gregcouch

I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else. Or with someone else. That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high. I am a national columnist at FoxSports.com and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events. I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents. I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach. I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’ And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now. Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest. I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here. Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer. View all posts by gregcouch

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