Champ Bartoli loving life on the Devonshire grass

Marion Bartoli in Eastbourne pictured by Jane Stokes
Marion Bartoli in Eastbourne pictured by Jane Stokes
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Reigning AEGON International champion Marion Bartoli believes Eastbourne’s Devonshire Park is the ideal preparation for Wimbledon.

On Monday she said, “Eastbourne really allows me to get the best preparation for Wimbledon as possible and so gives me the best chance of doing well there.

“I have played some great matches here in Eastbourne for a lot of years now.”

She does admit to not having time to explore the town during the tournament. She said, “At first, I spend most of my time on the practice courts but as the tournament goes on, I will do more outside of the tournament in Eastbourne.

Czech Petra Kvitová was beaten by Bartoli 6–1, 4–6, 7–5 in last year’s final but went on a fortnight later to be crowned Wimbledon champion.

Bartoli believes having a bad Eastbourne is not the end of the world when it comes to Wimbledon.

She said, “You can do bad in Eastbourne and still do well in Wimbledon. Last year, Petra won Wimbledon and I was out in the quarters. On grass, it’s very hard to predict anything.”

Grass is her favourite surface and she admits preferring it to the clay courts of Roland Garros at the French Open. She said, “I have more chance of winning Wimbledon than at Roland Garros. Grass is a very specific surface that not a lot of players feel comfortable on.”

Coached by her father, Walter, Bartoli is one of the few players to use both hands in all her stroke-making, and at 5’ 7”, her stature is insignificant compared to that of big serving players such as Venus Williams and Kvitova.

But her love for tennis and, in particular for Wimbledon’s All England Club, is infectious.

She said, “I’m always very excited when I go to Wimbledon as I have so many good memories.” Most notably her runner-up trophy at Wimbledon in 2007.

“I have a bright smile on my face when I go back because those goose bumps come back to my body when I remember 2007.”

Bartoli is quietly confident she can take real form from Eastbourne into Wimbledon. She said, “I’m playing well at the moment and hopefully I can transfer that to Wimbledon.”