In the end, they just wouldn’t give her the win.
Both Bartoli and Lisicki brought their best games and their worst errors. Bartoli’s game of returning balls flat and low ended up too many times in the net losing points and gaining frustrations. Even some of her most powerful serves got caught in the cloth after she swung her racket with that odd two stage hitch as if she was swatting flies instead of tennis balls.
Lisicki tried to take advantage of Bartoli’s fairy tale slowness on the court. But Bartoli showed for every drop shot and slice. If she didn’t return the same to the German’s side of the net, then she wound up her powerful two-handed grip and fired the ball deep into the corner.
Deep into the first set, Lisicki seemed to stop trying and her trademark smile disappeared. Every one of her trick shots was returned as winners. And as her game collapsed, she turned towards the stand hiding her face behind her racket and hands.
This was not going well.
Lisicki started to come back in the second set but Bartoli just went back to work. It was ended with a chalk-dust raising ace, something neither player expected.
But the media refused to give Bartoli the well earned and deserved congratulations of the win. Instead they offered up the fact that Bartoli never faced a competitor higher in ranking than herself. Closest was the American hope, the 17th seeded Sloane Stephens, who was beaten by the 15th seeded Bartoli.
The media called Bartoli’s style “quirky” as their euphemism for a perceived clumsy style and less than glamorous physical appearance. Even Billie Jean King, in a death mask-like appearance, seemed amazed by Bartoli’s skill.
In the immediate post game interview, Lisicki would only say that she was overwhelmed by the stadium and the attention, did not play her best game, and was exhausted from having played some of the top ranked seeds including Serena Williams. In an allusion to Bartoli’s seeming lesser competition, she explained that Bartoli was definitely fresher. “Credit to Marion,” Lisicki said, “she has been in this situation before,” as she also expressed a desire to return for another chance.
The fans agreed. When the trophies were awarded they gave Lisicki a standing ovation while giving Bartoli something only slightly above polite applause. Bartoli, the professional, agreed with the crowd, stating with confidence that Lisicki will most definitely be back.
At the end of the day, Bartoli said, “For a tennis player, you start to play like at 5 or 6 years old. When you decide to turn pro, your dream is to win a Grand Slam. You dream about it every day. And when it happens…you achieve something that you dream about for maybe millions of hours.”
She’s no longer that kid in the schoolyard imagining herself at the plate in the bottom of the ninth of the last game of the series. She did it. For real. She deserves the win.
Good for you, kid. Keep it coming…