At the age of 28 and with her with solitary appearance in a Grand Slam final now almost six years distant, Marion Bartoli has announced a major makeover for her career in a last bid for glory.
As reported last month, the Frenchwoman who currently stands at no.11 on the WTA world rankings but has previously gone as high as no.7, has ended a career-long coaching relationship with her father Walter and now plans to work with former Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo.
However Bartoli has also finally decided to integrate into the French Federation de Tennis system and is determined to get in the best shape of her life. She has appointed a new physical trainer in Xavier Moreau who worked with Mauresmo during her best years.
“When you look at the players right now, if you’re not physically extremely strong, how you can be able to beat them?” asked Bartoli. “It’s impossible. You have to be so fit to be able to run for three hours. Then the next day be on the court and do it again and again and again.
“So if you want to be inside of the top ten, if you want to have the trophies and achieve something, the first thing is to get really fit. For some players it’s easier because they are naturally physically stronger than me because they have their parents who have been champions or whatever. I don’t have that; I know it. It has been always my weakness.”
After losing to Caroline Wozniacki in the Dubai Duty Free Championships, Bartoli will return home to Geneva in Switzerland, which is also the base of Mauresmo and Moreau
“Amelie’s going to be probably my main coach,” she confirmed. “For some tournaments; the big ones, at least. Then of course I need to find someone else, because a year is not only made by the Grand Slam tournaments along with Indian Wells and Miami. It’s a lot of tournaments every week, and I need someone with me all the time.
“But for now the most important thing for me is to improve physically. I feel on the tennis court I know what I have to do, and I know myself extremely well. So it’s not like I really need someone at 28 years old taking me by the hand and telling me what to do. I know how to hit forehands and backhands.
“Xavier was the physical trainer of Amelie, and he took her to no. 1 in the world and to Grand Slams. I can see already the improvement just by working a little bit every day just before the matches.”
But Bartoli was at pains to stress her new regime has the complete backing of her father who previously was at odds with the French system. She still telephones her father every day but no longer will he be the dominant force in her tennis career.
“It’s been a long process,” she said. “I have been talking a lot with my dad about it, of course. I love him too much to really just say: ‘That’s it. It’s over.’
“As an athlete, you have to think about your career when you’re 28 years old and you’re kind of towards the end of your career. Either you just let it slip away, finish the way it is and you’re happy with what you have already done. Or you want more, and I’m the kind of person that always wants more.
“So I felt it was the time to do it, and my dad encouraged me to do so. So it’s not like it’s a split and we are in fight or whatever. We are really on the same page.”