Wimbledon 2013: Sabine Lisicki on the defensive after bad blood threatens trademark smile

German insists shows of enjoyment will continue despite Radwanska giving her cold shoulder


Pressure? What pressure? Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli, Wimbledon’s improbable ladies’ finalists, yesterday giggled their way through their press conferences like a pair of schoolgirls. The duo, seeded 23 and 15 respectively and without a tournament win between them since 2011, were rank outsiders two weeks ago but in their contrasting ways have captivated the Wimbledon audience.

There is a suspicion that opponents are less enamoured by Lisicki’s emotional displays and Bartoli’s quirky hyperactivity, but their paring should make for a highly-watchable final this afternoon – as long as both players keep their nerve .

Bartoli ought to have the edge in that she has been here before, losing the 2007 final to Venus Williams. “Having the experience of being out there already will help,” the 28-year-old Frenchwoman said, “I am feeling less stressed than last time. It will help me deal with my nerves, but I still have to deal with her level of game.”

Indeed. Bartoli has not dropped a set all fortnight, but nor has she been much tested. She has faced only two players inside the top 50, and the highest-ranked player she met was 17th-seeded American Sloane Stephens.

Lisicki, however, has been through the fires. Every opponent has been top-50 ranked beginning with former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, and including 14th seed Sam Stosur en route to her dramatic come-from-behind victories over last season’s finalists Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska.

“It’s been a lot of fun, a great journey, and it hasn’t finished yet,” she said. “I’m looking forward to going out on Centre Court again.” Lisicki, 23, said she had spoken to compatriot Boris Becker about the final experience, adding, “he won his first final”.

Lisicki, like Becker, hits the ball hard: hard enough that she, too, was nicknamed ‘Boom-Boom’ when emerging in Germany. Bartoli also gives the ball a thwack – Lisicki  described her opponent’s play as  “aggressive” – but it is their mannerisms that have caught the attention as much as their strokes. Asked about her effervescent behaviour on court – her celebrations seemed to anger Radwanska on Thursday – Lisicki said: “That’s just myself. I enjoy myself out there. Why shouldn’t I show it? It helps me play my best. I think it is why the crowd like me. They are happy to see someone who loves what they are doing.”

Bartoli’s routine also has the potential to aggravate across the net as she turns her back, shadow swings, hops and skips ,then bounces around the court like the Duracell Bunny. Lisicki, who has played her four times in the past, said she was unfazed. “I’m not looking at it. I focus on myself.”

This may be true, but it was noticable this was one of the few times the bubbly blonde act was curtailed. Bartoli’s cheery demeanour also slipped at one point, when she was asked if she agreed she was “an unlikely finalist”. Clearly she did not.

Bartoli’s giggles came when she was asked about Pierce Brosnan, who she famously said inspired her back in her 2007 run to the final. “I knew that question was coming,” she said amid mirth. She revealed the latest Bond, Daniel Craig, did not get her pulse beating in quite the same way but if Ryan Gosling was in the area...

It has not all been laughs, though, for the Corsican. She admitted off-field difficulties had left her at “rock-bottom”. This is widely assumed to relate to her issues with her father, who taught her from an early age but has been replaced as coach this year.

Quoting Nietzsche, who appears to be in every athlete’s library, she said: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I had tough times privately, some low moments, which affected my mood. I hit rock bottom, but I kept my head up. I wanted to win matches again. That is what drove me to go out on court and practise. Now I am happy and everything is perfect again.”

Her father, Walter, has been absent this Wimbledon but has flown in for today’s final. A doctor, he quit his profession to coach his daughter, teaching himself along the way, even building a home-made ball-deliverer so she could practise alone.

There are elements of this story Lisicki will recognise. She was also introduced to tennis by her father, another doctor, though academic  rather than medical, who has also coached her. Like Bartoli, who was  financed by her grandfather, Lisicki’s career owes much to family support with her parents driving across Europe to tournament after tournament.

“My parents did everything possible to let me play tennis,” she said. “My dad worked from eight in the morning to nine in the evening to make it possible. Sometimes we had to cancel tournaments because we couldn’t afford to go there. It has been a big challenge to get to this point.”

Lisicki’s progress was interrupted by a hay-fever related allergy to grass. “I know, it is ironic,” she said laughing, “but now I have medication and I  love grass.”

The pair have met twice on the surface, Bartoli beating Lisicki here in 2008 but losing a 2011 quarter-final to the German. Lisicki won their other two meetings, on clay in Charleston, and starts as slight favourite despite her lower seeding.

“We both hit the ball pretty hard and pretty flat, from the baseline” said Bartoli. “Sabine serves faster than me, I take the ball a bit earlier. We are very close in terms of level. In a Grand Slam it is always about small details – a point here, a point there, maybe someone is a bit more gutsy. It is a battle of nerves, who is able to come up with their best on the day.”

Countrywomen: German and French finalists


Suzanne Lenglen

One of the game’s greats, Lenglen was unbeaten at Wimbledon, winning six of the first seven titles after the First World War before turning professional after a dispute with tournament organisers.

Nathalie Tauziat

Didier Deschamps’ cousin was a surprise finalist in 1998, the 16th-seed losing to Jana Novotna. She has been a mentor to Bartoli.

Amélie Mauresmo

The current French Federation captain, who celebrated her 34th birthday yesterday, was No 1 in the world when she beat Justine Henin in 2006.

Marion Bartoli

Venus Williams denied the French back-to-back winners when she defeated today’s finalist in straight sets in 2007.


Cilly Aussem

There were no German finalists at Wimbledon for the first 47 years, then two came along at once, Aussem taking advantage of the absence of Helen Wills-Moody to defeat compatriot Hilde Krahwinkel 6-2, 7-5 in 1931.

Hilde Sperling, nee Krahwinkel

After her 1931 Wimbledon defeat, Krabhwinkel, now named Sperling after marriage, won a trio of French Opens and reached a second Wimbledon final in 1936 only to be beaten again.

Steffi Graf

Vies with Lenglen and Serena Williams as the greatest female player. Became the Queen of SW19 in the 1990s winning seven titles in nine years between 1988 and 1996 and reaching finals either side of that run.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice