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Marion Bartoli captures first Grand Slam title

Lisicki routed in Wimbledon final

Marion Bartoli described winning Wimbledon as something “you think about every day.”

CARL COURT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Marion Bartoli described winning Wimbledon as something “you think about every day.”

LONDON — Marion Bartoli said the Wimbledon women’s final would be a battle of nerves. She dominated that battle, and then she won the match.

Bartoli, the 28-year-old from France, captured her first Grand Slam championship Saturday, defeating Sabine Lisicki, 6-1, 6-4.

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There are many ways to count how long Bartoli waited for this moment. She was competing in her 47th Grand Slam event, the most of any champion before winning her first title. She reached her first Grand Slam final here six years ago but did not reach another one until Saturday. She had not won a tournament of any kind since 2011.

Bartoli counted it in hours: hours of dreams since she was 6, when she was taught the game by her father, Walter, who was her coach until earlier this year.

“For a tennis player, you start to play like at 5 or 6 years old,” she said. “When you decide to turn pro, your dream is to win a Grand Slam. You dream about it every day. You think about every day.

“So when it happens, when it actually happens, you feel like, you know, you achieve something that you dream about for maybe millions of hours.”

Bartoli, the No. 15 seed, is the first player to win the Wimbledon title without beating a top-10 seed and only the third player seeded outside the top 10 to win Wimbledon in the Open era.

She also is the first woman to win Wimbledon playing two-handed on both sides. Not even the player she was modeled after, Monica Seles, was a winner here.

Lisicki, the No. 23 seed from Germany, was in her first Grand Slam final, and it seemed both players were nervous at the start. Bartoli double faulted to give Lisicki a break in the first game, but Lisicki gave it right back. She also double faulted on break point, with a terrible toss on her second serve, which plagued her throughout the match.

It was just the start of an erratic performance by Lisicki, who won the hearts of the British crowds after her upset of No. 1 Serena Williams in the fourth round. Lisicki was broken two more times in the first set, badly overhitting groundstrokes and unable to control her serve.

Bartoli, on the other hand, was laser-focused and hitting laser shots, crushing backhands that caused the crowd to go “oooh.”

But Lisicki, 23, had been in holes before, down a break in the third sets against both Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals. The Centre Court crowd tried to rouse her as she won the opening game of the set.

Still, Bartoli would not let Lisicki in. She saved four break points in the second game of the set, and then broke Lisicki in the third.

At this point Lisicki’s emotions got the best of her. Serving at 1-3, Lisicki started laughing when she had another bad toss. After two double faults, though, Lisicki was covering her face with her racket, in tears. Bartoli broke her again to go up, 4-1, a second break she would need.

“I was a bit sad that I couldn’t perform the way I can,” Lisicki said.

She started to come back, saving three match points and then breaking Bartoli to get to 3-5.

The second time Bartoli served for the championship, however, she would not let it go. She held at love, closing with an ace.

“I could have seen it in slow motion,” she said. “I could see the ball landing, the chalk come out, it’s an ace, and I just win Wimbledon.”

Lisicki admitted being overwhelmed by the occasion and drained from fighting through a difficult draw, beating No. 1 Williams, No. 4 Radwanska, and No. 14 Sam Stosur.

“I had to take out three, four Grand Slam champions on the way, and then against Radwanska, 9-7 in the third set just two days ago,” Lisicki said.

She added: “The matches are different when you play against the top players. They’re heavier. They’re longer. You have more draining rallies. Mentally and physically I just felt I wasn’t at 100 percent.”

After the handshakes, Bartoli ran to her box and climbed in to hug her father, who had come to the tournament for the final.

However heartbreaking their split was, a fresh perspective provided by a team from the French tennis federation has lifted Bartoli to new heights.

“It determined the whole tournament she’s had,” said Amélie Mauresmo, the 2006 champion here. “She’s a hard worker and what she’s done with her father in the past was really impressive in working hard. How things got together with everyone being a specialist in their own area made a big difference.”

Mauresmo has been an adviser, too, and Bartoli said Mauresmo had helped her most dealing with stress and not wasting energy off the court.

“Hard work, intensity, fun and easygoing, these things can go together,” Mauresmo said.

Bartoli found a memorable way repay Mauresmo, whose birthday was Friday.

“Happy birthday, girl,” said Bartoli, holding up the Venus Rosewater Dish.

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