Serena Williams is unique, says Marion Bartoli

Rituraj Borkakoty/Dubai
Filed on November 14, 2015 | Last updated on November 14, 2015 at 12.08 pm
Marion Bartoli is the brand ambassador of 24-Hour Tennis Marathon.
Marion Bartoli is the brand ambassador of 24-Hour Tennis Marathon.

(Photo by Shihab)

When we sat down for an interview, Bartoli looked at peace with life after tennis as she revealed her new ambition -- to make women feel beautiful and confident.

Some miserable people made fun of Marion Bartoli's greatest tennis moment by calling her too 'fat' and 'ugly' for a Wimbledon champion. Now two years after her famous victory on the hallowed lawns of All England Club, the Frenchwoman surprised onlookers in Dubai with her slim frame.

When we sat down for an interview, Bartoli looked at peace with life after tennis as she revealed her new ambition -- to make women feel beautiful and confident.

"I have a very healthy lifestyle. I go to the gym every day," Bartoli, the brand ambassador of 24-Hour Tennis Marathon, said when this reporter asked her the secret to her incredible fitness.

"I would love to set up a fitness programme for women in Dubai to encourage them to have a healthy lifestyle. I feel so good now with my new body shape so if I can help other women here it would be really great."

With that double-handed forehand and backhand, Bartoli never appealed to the tennis aesthetic. But the Frenchwoman is now ready to make a mark in an industry where beauty and style have paramount importance.

"People ask me if I will return to tennis. So I put up a question on Twitter asking my fans if I should. I remember one fan who said, 'I think you should stay in your retirement as we have this beautiful memory of you winning Wimbledon. Just enjoy your life now.'

"I am doing exactly that now. I am happy with my new life as a fashion designer. I am designing everything completely. It's my heart, my soul, my imagination.

"My platform is France. Miss France 2015, Serena and Venus Williams are wearing my creations. Also I will have the opportunity to design for Fila. I will be having my own brand in the Spring-Summer 2016. There will be a Fila logo, but it will be my own design because I have the design background and I am part of this very, very famous fashion school - Central Saint Martins - in London."

When did she discover her other talent? "I actually started to draw sketches before I started to play tennis. I don't think you can call it a talent, but yes I have a huge passion for it. I spend hours designing sometimes an evening dress, or sometimes a tennis outfit. I just love doing it. You can make a statement with a piece of cloth. I want to make women feel happy and beautiful."

Bartoli then revisited her most beautiful tennis moment. "I knew 2013 was my last chance to win because my body was just so exhausted. I just could not take it anymore after all the injuries. I was spending so much time with the physio that tennis was becoming too damaging for my body.

"But I rose to the challenge that year. I thought it will take something special to beat me because I was ready to throw everything on that court and you know I won without dropping a set."

There was deep contentment on her face when she said that. And then there was a gasp-inducing moment when we asked her about an ageless wonder.

"Serena (Williams) is an amazing champion. Venus is amazing too. They are made of something which is extraordinary. I faced it from the other side of the net, and I can tell you it was very difficult. It was such a huge challenge. Serena is winning so many slams because she is unique.

"The challengers have been always there - (Maria) Sharapova, (Victoria) Azarenka, (Petra) Kvitova, (Simona) Halep. But she is beating them all the time.

"I think three and four players will be sharing the Slams once Serena hangs up her racquet. Yes, maybe the top four or five will be constant. I think (Garbiņe) Muguruza has definitely the potential. Simona is good. I think Azarenka is going to come back very strongly. But I don't think anybody could do what Serena is doing."

So is she the greatest of all time? "It's so difficult to compare players. It will be unfair to say if she is better than Steffi (Graf), (Martina) Navratilova and (Chris) Evert. It's like comparing Roger Federer with Rod Laver. So it's difficult to compare players from different eras. But it fills me with so much pride that I played Serena and I was able to beat her sometimes!" 

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