Wimbledon 2013: Marion Bartoli bustles in with a jump, skip and a shuffle aptly defies convention

 

Wimbledon

Marion Bartoli, who faces Kirsten Flipkens in the Wimbledon semi-finals this afternoon, has always defied convention. The 28-year-old Frenchwoman grew up outside the tennis mainstream, coached by her father Walter, a doctor who had no background in the sport but taught himself the basics and embarked on a mission to make his daughter one of the best players in the world.

Throughout her career Bartoli's game has been marked by bizarre routines, particularly as part of her preparation to serve as she jumps, skips, shuffles and twirls her racket. Walter has built home-made contraptions to help with her practice sessions, while her court positioning inside the baseline is a legacy of her days learning the game in the Haute-Loire region of France on a tiny court with almost no space at the back.

Bartoli's latest challenge to the norm has been to reach the last four of the world's most famous tournament nine months after her last semi-final anywhere and after illness and injury had cut a swathe through her Wimbledon preparations. "My body was cracking up all over the place," she said. "I felt my ankle was hurting me still at the French Open. I wasn't really able to be ready to play in Birmingham and then I got this bad virus at Eastbourne, but in the back of my head I was still thinking I could do well here. Every time I come back here, for some reason – I don't know why – I have a smile on my face. I felt great right away."

Bartoli reached her only Grand Slam final here six years ago – she lost to Venus Williams – creating one of the biggest shocks of modern times with her semi-final victory over Justine Henin after losing the first set. In true Bartoli fashion, the Frenchwoman said she had turned the match around against the world No 1 after seeing the actor Pierce Brosnan in the crowd and feeling that she could not play so badly in front of him.

Bartoli will again face a Belgian opponent as she attempts to reach this year's final, though Flipkens is no Henin. The 27-year-old was ranked No 175 in the world this week last year, when she played in a minor clay-court tournament in the Netherlands with a total prize pot of just $25,000 (about £16,400).

Earlier last year Flipkens had been diagnosed with blood clots in her calves and had her funding removed by her national association. Nevertheless, it proved a turning point as Kim Clijsters, another former world No 1 from Belgium, stepped into the breach and started to coach her part-time. Flipkens, who had only ever won three matches at Wimbledon before last week, is now up to No 20 in the world rankings and could climb as high as No 8 if she wins the title.

The other semi-final brings together two women who have become specialists on grass. Agnieszka Radwanska is a former Wimbledon junior champion – as is Flipkens – and reached the final here last year before losing to Serena Williams. Sabine Lisicki has reached two quarter-finals and two semi-finals in her last four appearances at the All England Club. Radwanska, the world No 4 and the lone top 10 player in the last four, is the only woman who has reached the quarter-finals or better of all three Grand Slam tournaments this year.

Whatever happens, a new Wimbledon champion will be crowned on Saturday, which will see only the third SW19 women's final since 1999 not to feature at least one of the Williams sisters. For the first time in the Open era at Wimbledon, all four semi-finalists are players seeking their first Grand Slam title. It will be an appropriate finale to one of the most unpredictable championships for years.

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam