May 10th, 2008, 09:24 AM
THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, England; grass; Grand Slam)
1. Semi-final TV-report: Bartoli v Henin
2. Final-preview: Bartoli v V.Williams
1. Semi-final TV-report: Bartoli v Henin (Friday 6th July 2007)
+ MARION BARTOLI [18,DF,S] d. JUSTINE HENIN , 1-6 7-5 6-1
"The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone."
Just over a year ago, I demoted Marion from my demi-fanship for being boring. But this tremendous upset was certainly very exciting, so I hereby reverse my decision! I am a demi-fan of Marion once more, even though, as a Selesian, this makes the descriptor after her name rather wide! ;-)
John McEnroe: "I like the way Bartoli plays a lot: she reminds me a lot of Monica Seles. She takes the ball real early, hits two hands off of both sides. She's stepping in as far as the Williams-sisters when /they/ return serve! She's really looking to intimidate. She's got great hands. But still, that has got to be ranked maybe #1 in upsets of all upsets that she's in the final here."
My summary of the match
IMO, this is the third-biggest upset in Wimbledon-history, as Henin was in the form of her life having won the French Open and Eastbourne with a series of humiliating scorelines (including Marion at Eastbourne), and her bid to win the only Grand-Slam title to have eluded her looked unstoppable. Indeed, Henin had not lost before the final of any Grand Slam she had played since the US Open 2005.
The #2 upset in Wimbledon-history was Monica's shock-defeat by Katarína Studeníková in the second round of Wimbledon 1996, and the #1 upset was Jelena Dokić's stunning 6-2 6-0 win over top seed Martina Hingis in the first round of Wimbledon 1999!
Marion's tactics included frequent trips to the net. In the first set, Henin paid Marion's toenails expert attention with a series of dipping passes that forced her into error.
Henin was twice a break up in the second set (*1-0 and *4-3), but some uncharacteristic unforced errors crept into her game, Marion outmanoeuvred her with some great spreading rallies, and Marion enjoyed much more success at the net.
In the third set, Henin seemed really flat. Marion at *2-0 came through a marathon service-game of five deuces and two break-points, and Henin's legendary ability to come back in matches did not save her from Marion's 5-0* lead, as Marion held her nerve to serve out the match to love at *5-1.
Marion's BBC interview from yesterday
"It's very important for me. I started to play good here a few years ago, so reaching the semi-final is a big achievement for me.
"I need at least ten hours' sleep. Once, I slept 18 hours in a row, I swear!
"My father told me: never, ever be a doctor, because it takes all your time!
"I was inspired by Monica Seles in the French Open 1992 final. I wasn't powerful enough to hit a one-handed forehand. Thank you to Monica!"
[Re. her cocked wrist while serving]
"My wrist has to be very flexible, otherwise my serve is not quick enough to have a high speed.
"I'm under tremendous pressure in the French Open, because I'm French, and I was the last one in the draw. At Wimbledon I don't feel as much pressure."
Interviews coming onto court
Henin: "It never changes. It's a Grand Slam semi-final, so there's a lot of tension. It's another situation: we have to start again, so I'll have to play my best to win."
Marion: "I'm feeling pretty good right now. I hope it will continue like this, and I'll try to play my best today, and take my pleasure to play on this court."
Sue Barker said Marion looked pretty nervous walking onto Centre Court for the first time in her life, whereas for Henin it's a familiar walk.
BARTO ___*___ 1
HENIN *@* *@* 6
The match was switched to Centre Court after the first men's quarter-final on Court One went to five sets. The match started at 17:11 BST.
Henin serving 0-0: Marion forehand just wide. 15/0. Marion netted a forehand return. 30/0. Ace out wide, on the sideline. 40/0. Henin came to the net behind a sliced backhand, but it was just long. 40/15. Marion netted a forehand return.
Barry Davies is already talking about Henin like she's through to the final. :-|| But he did praise Marion's "long, attractive hair".
Marion serving 0-1: Marion backhand wide. 0/15. Henin hit a clever forehand winner down the line behind Marion - waited for her to cover the crosscourt before she hit it. 0/30. Marion forehand long. 0/40 (3 BPs). Henin played a good spreading rally, culminating with a forehand down the line + crosscourt forehand winner.
Tracy Austin: "The longer the point goes, the more advantage Henin has. She's a much better athlete and mover than Bartoli."
Henin serving 2-0: Marion backhand winner down the line. 0/15. Service-winner down the middle. 15/15. Henin hit a sliced backhand into the bottom of the net, off a flat, low-bouncing return from Marion. 15/30. Service-winner down the middle. 30/30. Marion netted a forehand return. 40/30. Marion netted a backhand.
Tracy Austin: "Totally overmatched and overwhelmed so far. She uses the same grip for both forehand and backhand: doesn't exchange hands, and that restricts her reach."
Marion serving 0-3: Marion came to the net and hit a backhand drive-volley winner. 15/0. Marion went for a backhand winner down the line off a low, wide, crosscourt backhand pass from Henin, but it was wide. 15/15. Henin forehand just wide. 30/15. Marion came to the net, but netted a backhand volley off an awkward low, dipping pass from Henin. 30/30. Marion played a good spreading rally: her crosscourt backhand, just inside the sideline, forced Henin to hit a backhand lob long. 40/30. Service-winner down the middle.
Henin serving 3-1: Henin ripped a crosscourt backhand winner behind Marion. 15/0. Henin sliced backhand winner down the line, on the sideline. 30/0. Marion forehand return-winner down the line - short backswing, took it early, robbed Henin of time. 30/15. Marion standing way in to receive, and Henin hit her second serve long for a double fault! But Tracy Austin didn't appreciate Marion's receiving-position - she just blamed the wind. 30/30. Marion forehand long. 40/30. Marion netted a forehand to provoke the first "allez" from Henin.
Marion serving 1-4: Serve & volley: Marion crosscourt backhand volley-winner. 15/0. Henin framed a backhand lob-return wide. 30/0. Marion netted a backhand. 30/15. Marion backhand just long. She used up a challenge to have Hawkeye show that it was long by just a few millimetres. 30/30. Henin crosscourt backhand winner. 30/40 (BP). Henin crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline + "allez".
Henin serving 5-1: Henin hit a low-bouncing backhand winner down the line. 15/0. Serve + off-forehand winner. 30/0. Service-winner. 40/0 (3 SPs). Marion forehand return just wide. Henin won the first set 6-1 at 17:33 (22m).
Tracy Austin: "She's going to have to play the match of her life, at high-risk level, to try to even bother Henin."
BARTO _@*@___@* *@ 7
HENIN @___@*@__*__ 5
Marion serving 0-0 (new balls): Marion netted a backhand on the third stroke. 0/15. Marion came to the net and hit a high backhand volley-winner off a volley from Henin! 15/15. Marion backhand just wide. 15/30. Henin netted a running crosscourt forehand. 30/30. Henin crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 30/40. Marion came to the net, but Henin ripped a backhand pass-winner down the line, and said "allez".
Tracy Austin said that Marion's unorthodoxy also extends to her training-sessions: when she's on the treadmill, she sets the slope extremely high.
Marion may not look very fit, but she does train extremely hard: 4 or 5 hours a day. Her father advised her to bulk up so that she gets more weight behind her shots.
Henin serving 1-0: Henin netted an unforced backhand after a long rally. 0/15. Henin spread Marion with a crosscourt backhand + crosscourt forehand volley-winner. 15/15. Marion showed good footwork to hit a crosscourt forehand that induced Henin to net a forehand. 15/30. Henin snatched at a forehand, hitting it into the net. 15/40 (2 BPs). Marion netted a defensive forehand lob. 30/40. Henin crosscourt forehand volley-winner. 40/40. A fabulous rally with them both at the net, exchanging several volleys, ended with Marion hitting a crosscourt forehand volley-winner!! Even the umpire's voice raised in pitch when she pronounced Marion's surname in announcing the next score: Advantage Miss Bartoli (BP #3). Henin forehand long - Marion breaks back!
Marion serving 1-1: Henin netted a backhand volley. 15/0. Henin backhand wide. 30/0. Marion netted a one-handed forehand volley. 30/15. Marion crosscourt forehand virtual winner. 40/15. Henin netted a forehand.
Henin serving 1-2: Henin netted a forehand return - leaning back on her heels. 0/15. Another deep shot from Marion pushed Henin back on her heels; Marion off-backhand winner down the line. 0/30. Henin played a good spreading rally at the net, finishing with a high forehand volley-winner. 15/30. Marion off-backhand winner just inside the sideline. 15/40 (2 BPs). Marion netted a cheap forehand return. 30/40. And again. 40/40. Ace out wide, on the sideline + "allez". Ad Henin. She netted a forehand. Deuce #2. Henin sprayed a forehand wide. Ad Marion (BP #3). Henin sprayed a crosscourt forehand wide.
Two breaks in a row, and Henin is making some uncharacteristic unforced errors now! Tracy Austin suggested that she "took her foot off the accelerator" because she's playing an opponent ranked #17 in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam, and won the first set so easily.
Marion serving 3-1: Service-winner: forehand return long. 15/0. And again! 30/0. A good rally ended with Henin hitting a rather impudent forehand dropshot-winner from behind the baseline. 40/0. Marion hit a blistering crosscourt backhand winner. 40/15. Marion came to the net behind a woefully short approach, giving Henin an easy backhand pass-winner down the line. 40/30. Marion backhand long. 40/40. Henin exposed Marion's lack of mobility with a slow forehand winner down the line. Ad Henin (BP). Marion moved the wrong way just as Henin hit another forehand winner down the line to break back.
Henin serving 2-3: Marion hit an amazing crosscourt forehand drive-volley winner from no-man's-land!! 0/15. Service-winner + "allez". 15/15. Marion stretched netted a backhand off a short ball from Henin. 30/15. Henin netted a backhand. 30/30. Henin crosscourt backhand volley-winner with them both at the net (Henin's dropshot). 40/30. Henin crosscourt backhand winner + "allez".
Marion serving 3-3: Henin netted a backhand. 15/0. Henin hit a leaping high forehand volley-winner. 15/15. Henin drew Marion to the net with a dropshot, and hit a lob which made Marion run back and hit an uncontrollable backhand wide. 15/30. With Henin at the net, Marion hit a backhand lob just wide, and used up a challenge "more in hope than expectation" [Barry Davies]. 15/40 (2 BPs). Henin crosscourt backhand winner behind Marion + "allez".
Henin serving 4-3: Marion netted a backhand. 15/0. Henin netted a forehand. 15/15. Henin blasted a wild forehand wide. 15/30. Marion backhand wide. 30/30. Henin sprayed another wild forehand wide. 30/40 (BP). Marion tapped a sharp crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline, and shouted "c'mon!"
Tracy Austin: "Excellent game by Bartoli: absorbing the pace, staying down low with her knees. Monica Seles used to get down that low."
Marion serving 4-4: Henin netted a forehand. 15/0. Henin netted a forehand after a good spreading rally from Marion. Barry Davies: "Look who's doing all the running!" 30/0. Serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner. 40/0. Henin forehand return-winner just inside the baseline to Marion's right. 40/15. Henin netted a forehand.
Henin serving 4-5: Marion came to the net on a poor dropshot from Henin, forcing Henin to net a backhand. 0/15. Marion, now grunting loudlier, hit a pinpoint backhand winner down the line, just inside the sideline! 0/30. Henin forced a short ball from Marion, and dispatched it with a forehand winner down the line. 15/30. Service-winner down the middle + "allez!" 30/30. Henin dominated the rally and came to the net, forcing Marion to hit a forehand lob wide. 40/30. Henin forehand return just long. Tracy Austin: "Bartoli really pressuring Henin on return of serve. Very intense." 40/40. Henin hit a superbly controlled angled crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline, and shouted "allez!" Ad Henin. She hit an off-forehand winner.
Marion serving 5-5: Double fault #1 (second serve into the net). 0/15. A long rally ended with Henin hitting a forehand winner down the line and screaming "allez!" 0/30. Service-winner out wide. 15/30. Henin crosscourt forehand winner onto the baseline. 15/40 (2 BPs). Marion blasted a huge crosscourt backhand, forcing Henin at full stretch to hit a backhand lob wide. 30/40. Henin backhand long. 40/40. Service-winner. Ad Marion. Her backhand down the line on the third stroke barely bounced at all, forcing Henin to earth a forehand.
Henin serving 5-6: Henin netted a forehand. 0/15. Henin sprayed a wild backhand very wide. 0/30. Double fault (second serve just long). 0/40 (3 SPs). Marion hit an off-backhand volley-winner, and screamed in celebration! Marion won the second set 7-5 at 18:30 (57m).
BARTO *@*@* * 6
HENIN _____*_ 1
Marion serving 0-0: Henin forehand long. 15/0. Second serve at 81mph: Henin forehand return-winner to Marion's right. 15/15. Marion netted a forehand return. 15/30. Marion came to the net, but a testing forehand pass down the line forced her to net a backhand volley. 15/40 (2 BPs). Henin came to the net, but Marion hit a nice backhand pass-winner down the line. 30/40. Henin netted a backhand. 40/40. Marion gave Henin the run around, and though she seemed to recover, Henin hit a forehand long. Ad Marion. Henin backhand return just long.
Tracy Austin: "This truly would be a complete shocker. She is playing out of her mind. I've seen her play many times before, but never at this level. She is in the zone."
Henin serving 0-1: Marion played a great spreading rally... until she netted a forehand. 15/0. Service-winner. 30/0. Marion's forehand return down the line hit the sideline with a puff of titanium pigment for a winner! 30/15. Henin netted a forehand. 30/30. Marion played a great rally at the net, finishing with a two-handed backhand volley-winner! 30/40 (BP). Marion broke with a screaming backhand winner down the line! She yelled and pumped her fist.
Four games in a row to Marion! I'm getting very excited!
Marion serving 2-0: Serve + crosscourt backhand netcord winner. 15/0. Henin hit a short-angled crosscourt forehand winner. 15/15. Henin came to the net, but Marion hit a backhand pass-winner down the line! 30/15. Marion came to the net, hit a crosscourt two-handed forehand volley-winner, and squealed with delight! 40/15. Henin came to the net and hit a forehand smash-winner. 40/30. Marion hit a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline, but it was just wide (Marion used up a challenge). 40/40. Henin sprayed a forehand wide. Ad Marion. She sprayed a backhand wide, off a low ball from Henin. Deuce #2. A great rally with sliced backhands from Henin ended with Marion at the net, hitting a low backhand volley just long. Ad Henin (BP). She netted a backhand. Deuce #3. A deep approach from Henin induced Marion to blast a backhand into the net with little control. Ad Henin (BP #2). A fantastic rally ended with Henin netting a backhand dropshot off one from Marion. Deuce #4. Ad Marion. She sprayed a backhand wide. Deuce #5. Serve + crosscourt backhand virtual winner into the corner. Ad Marion. Henin sprayed a forehand wide.
Henin serving 0-3: Henin netted a tame forehand. 0/15. Henin hit a forehand dropshot-winner into the wind: it landed very short. 15/15. Henin forehand just long. 15/30. Henin dominated the rally but netted a forehand, and Barry Davies accused her of rushing. 15/40 (2 BPs). Henin backhand just wide.
Marion serving 4-0: Henin backhand lob long. 15/0. Marion wrong-footed Henin and hit a backhand dropshot-winner. Barry Davies: "What confidence, what impudence, what charm!" 30/0. Serve out wide + off-forehand winner. 40/0. A weak backhand lob from Marion gave Henin an easy backhand smash-winner. 40/15. Henin hit a pinpoint crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline. 40/30. Henin backhand wide.
Barry Davies: "Either way, the Centre Court will see a sensation: either the upset of the championship, or one of the greatest comebacks of all time."
Seven games in a row to Marion!!!
Henin serving 0-5: Marion netted a down-the-line backhand. 15/0. Marion hit an amazing crosscourt backhand drive-volley winner. 15/15. Henin forehand dropshot virtual winner. 30/15. Marion netted a forehand. Is she about to choke? 40/15. Marion netted a tame forehand return.
Marion serving 5-1: Marion off-forehand winner behind Henin. She pumped her fist. 15/0. Henin sprayed a backhand wide off a deep ball just inside the baseline from Marion. 30/0. First serve out wide: Henin forehand return wide. 40/0 (3 MPs). Henin forehand return just long. Marion won 1-6 7-5 6-1 at 19:06!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (third set 36m, match 1h55m).
Barry Davies: "She came here anonymous. She walks off the court famous."
Marion's BBC interview
"I didn't start well. I lost the first set easily - so stressful. But then I saw in the crowd Pierce Brosnan - one of my favourite actors - and I thought it was maybe good to play a little bit tennis, and to see him how I was playing. So I tried to play a little better... <inaudible: "in the final hour"? "after finding out"?>
"It was very hard, very windy; my game wasn't on at all. So I tried to just focus on the ball, and forget where I was playing and whom I was playing.
"I'm so excited to be in the final - it's like a dream come true. If you had told me beforehand, I wouldn't trust you.
"I hope so [that Pierce Brosnan will attend the final]. He gave me some legs, so maybe Pierce, if you can come back tomorrow, I can be gooder!"
John Inverdale: "Maybe Pierce Brosnan could make a tennis-movie: You Only Serve Twice!"
Henin's BBC interview
According to John Inverdale, Henin was in floods of tears after the match, and she seemed really dejected in her interview, though she was gracious in defeat:
"Yeah, it's still pretty early to really understand what happened in the match. I had control in the first set, and then the match completely turned. It's pretty difficult to accept now, but that's the way it happened.
"She played an unbelievable tennis; she played a very, very good match. I didn't keep up the pressure on her enough in the second set, didn't take my chances. In the third, she moved me a lot, I wasn't fresh enough, and she took the opportunities much more than me, so she really deserved to win that match."
BARTOLI STUNS HENIN TO MAKE FINAL [CEEFAX 490->491]
Bartoli stuns Henin to make final [CEEFAX 491]
Marion Bartoli caused one of the biggest shocks in Wimbledon history as she defeated world number one Justine Henin in the semi-finals.
The world number 19 will face Venus Williams in Saturday's final after a sensational 1-6 7-5 6-1 win.
Henin raced through the first set in 22 minutes, but the big-hitting Bartoli got the better of a second set featuring seven breaks of serve.
And the Frenchwoman hit stunning form in the third as Henin crumbled.
Bond actor inspires Bartoli win [CEEFAX 490->491]
Marion Bartoli said seeing former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan in the crowd had inspired her to a stunning semi-final win over Justine Henin.
"I can't believe it. I'm so excited," the 22-year-old told BBC Sport after her 1-6 7-5 6-1 win.
"I didn't start well. It was so stressful being on Centre Court for the first time.
"But then I saw Pierce Brosnan in the crowd, and he's one of my favourite actors so I tried to play better."
Henin bewildered by shock defeat [CEEFAX 491]
Justine Henin struggled to explain her defeat by Marion Bartoli in the Wimbledon semi-finals.
"I still don't understand what happened," she said after losing 6-1 5-7 1-6 to the world number 19.
"I played a good first set, then had a couple of chances in the second, and the match turned. It's pretty hard to take.
"I lost a lot of energy recently, winning the French Open, and then my quarter-final against Serena was tiring emotionally. I wasn't at my best."
BARTOLI STUNS HENIN IN SEMI TRIUMPH [Teletext 495->496]
Bartoli in stunning win [Teletext 496]
Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli played the match of her life to beat top seed Justine Henin and reach the final.
The 22-year-old 18th seed, who has never previously gone beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam, began nervously as Henin seemed in complete control.
But she grew in confidence during a topsy-turvy second set, then powered through the decider to win 1-6 7-5 6-1 and set up a final with Venus Williams.
Bond the key for Bartoli [Teletext 496]
James Bond came to the rescue of Marion Bartoli as she caused one of the great shocks in Wimbledon history by beating Justine Henin to reach the final.
The Frenchwoman will play Venus Williams, with the victor guaranteed to be the lowest-ranked winner.
Bartoli said: "I saw Pierce Brosnan, one of my favourite actors, so I tried to play better. I tried to forget against whom I was playing."
Henin shocked by Bartoli in semi-final
By Pritha Sarkar (Reuters)
A little-known Frenchwoman destroyed world number one Justine Henin's Wimbledon-dream on Friday.
Marion Bartoli produced the tennis of her life to humble a shell-shocked Henin 1-6 7-5 6-1 and march into her first Grand-Slam final against Venus Williams.
As Bartoli sealed the Belgian's fate and lapped up the applause from 13,000 cheering fans, a forlorn Henin had to cope with her earliest exit from a Grand Slam since 2005.
The result was the biggest upset in the sport since Jelena Dokić defeated then world number one Martina Hingis in the first round at Wimbledon in 1999.
When Henin arrived at the All England Club, her run to the final had almost been a foregone conclusion, with the real race being to see who would face her in the showpiece-match on Saturday.
But a player who had won only four matches at Wimbledon before this year dashed Henin's hopes of winning the only Grand-Slam trophy missing from her collection.
Bartoli fightback stuns Henin, impresses 007
By Martyn Herman (Reuters)
Marion Bartoli stunned top seed Justine Henin to reach the Wimbledon-final on Friday, beating the world number one 1-6 7-5 6-1.
The 22-year-old Frenchwoman, seeded 18th, produced an action-packed display after a torrid first set to book a Saturday showdown with three-times former champion Venus Williams.
"I'm so excited to be in the final, it's a dream come true," Bartoli said after completing the biggest victory of her career in front of a her favourite actor, former 007 Pierce Brosnan.
"It was my first match on Centre Court and I was stressed. I saw him in the crowd and I thought it's not possible to play so bad in front of him.
"I was focusing on him because he is so beautiful. I saw him cheering and kept going and I won."
Henin, chasing the only Grand-Slam title to elude her, looked unstoppable during a 22-minute first set, swishing away baseline-winners at will, but was left dazed later as an inspired Bartoli went on a seven-game hot streak.
"I still don't really know what did happen. I don't understand what happened," a glum-looking Henin said.
"Today it was like she could close her eyes and play unbelievable tennis."
The unorthodox Bartoli, whose previous best run at a Grand Slam was the fourth round at this year's French Open, suddenly relaxed and began striking the ball with real confidence.
She broke for a 3-1 lead, only for Henin to quickly snuff out the danger. Henin then seemed set to regain control when a rolled backhand gave her another break to lead 4-3.
Bartoli responded in the next game with a pummelled backhand winner to make it 4-4. Henin squandered two break-points at 5-5, and was made to pay when she lost her serve to love, Bartoli thrashing away a volley to level the match.
Fired up and clearly revelling in the atmosphere, Bartoli's tennis reached near perfection for the next five games as she pulled Henin all over the court.
Banging double-fisted drives off both sides into the corners, crafting clever angles and delicate drop shots, she gave Henin the run around to lead 5-0.
Henin managed to stop the rot by holding serve, but Bartoli showed no nerves to close out the match on her first match-point when a shell-shocked Henin hit long.
By Phil Casey, Special to PA SportsTicker
"I still don't really realise what did happen," Henin said. "I played a very good first set, then I had a couple of chances at the end of the second set. Didn't take these chances and the match completely turned over."
Recovering from a set and a break down, Bartoli extended Henin's elusive search for a title at the All England Club, and ended her bid for a career Grand Slam.
"I'm not quite sure it's a question of pressure about winning here," Henin said. "You know, I lost a lot of energy in the last few weeks. My match against Serena [Williams] also has been very tough mentally, emotionally. It was hard for me to be at my best today.
"I'll have other chances in the future. I don't make it an obsession. I'm disappointed because I lost a Grand-Slam semi-final. It's been normal to have these feelings now."
Few had given the Frenchwoman any chance of victory, and a routine win looked in the cards for Henin when she raced through the first set in 22 minutes with the loss of just one game.
But Bartoli, who had won just four matches in four previous visits to Wimbledon, staged an amazing comeback to add to her unlikely win over No. 3 Jelena Janković in the fourth round on Tuesday.
"Well, you know, for the moment, I don't realise really what I'm doing right now in this tournament," Bartoli said. "If you think [I would] beat the No. 1 in the world, [on] Centre Court, then [reach] the final of a Grand Slam, especially Wimbledon, I couldn't believe you."
Henin had quickly taken command of the match, breaking Bartoli to love in the second game of a match switched from Court One to Centre Court due to the five-hour epic between Novak Đoković and Marcos Baghdatis.
Bartoli, the most unlikely semi-finalist since Croatian Mirjana Lučić and American qualifier Alexandra Stevenson reached the last four in 1999, got on the board by holding serve in the fourth game, but Henin was simply a class apart.
A second break of serve was created with the aid of a trademark backhand winner, and Henin served out to take the set 6-1 in just 22 minutes.
"The first set I was quite nervous," the Frenchwoman said. "Especially [since] the wind disturb my game. I was not feeling the ball good at all. I was not hitting in the good rhythm. So I tried to just forget against whom I was playing and where I was playing, and just try to play my game the best as possible, just try to forget this first set."
Henin had won both previous meetings between the pair, including a 6-1 6-3 victory in the semi-finals at Eastbourne last month.
A similar scoreline always looked the most likely outcome, especially when Henin broke serve again in the opening game of the second set.
To Bartoli's credit she broke straight back, creating a third break-point with the rally of the match as the players traded reaction-volleys from close quarters at the net.
Henin was so impressed she sportingly applauded her opponent, but her mood quickly changed as she dropped her serve again in the fourth game to fall 3-1 behind.
Just as Roger Federer had responded to losing his first set of the championships to Juan Carlos Ferrero in the men's quarter-finals on Friday, Henin suddenly raised her game several notches, winning the next three games in a row by breaking Bartoli twice.
That looked like being the decisive moment, but Bartoli had clearly not read the script.
The 22-year-old broke back immediately, and once more to love in the 12th game to snatch the set 7-5 and give herself a chance of creating a massive upset.
"I got to the end of the second set and I was playing very good," Bartoli said. "I [also] started very good in the third set."
Bartoli was producing some inspired tennis in the late-evening sunshine, saving two break-points at the start of the decider, and firing a brilliant backhand winner down the line to break for a 2-0 lead.
Ranked 19th in the world, Bartoli then saved two more break-points to make it 3-0 and then, barely believably, won the next two games as well as Henin could find no answer to her probing groundstrokes.
"I didn't feel fresh enough in the third set to compete with her," Henin said. "She played very good tennis. So, yeah, it's pretty hard right now, but [I am] going to be better in a few days."
Henin held serve to finally get on the scoreboard and at least test Bartoli's nerves as she tried to serve for the match.
The name's Bartoli, Marion Bartoli...
By Phil Casey, Special to PA SportsTicker
Marion Bartoli admitted it was a dream come true after causing one of the greatest upsets in Wimbledon history by beating top seed Justine Henin in the semi-finals on Friday.
Bartoli, 22, recovered from a set and a break down to stun Henin on Centre Court, ending the world No. 1's bid for a career Grand Slam.
Few had given the 18th seed any chance of victory, and a routine win looked in the cards when Henin raced through the first set in just 22 minutes.
But Bartoli, who had won just four matches in four previous visits to the All England Club, staged an amazing comeback to record a 1-6 7-5 6-1 victory to set up a match-up with three-time champion Venus Williams in Saturday's final.
Bartoli then bizarrely credited her victory to seeing former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan in the Royal Box.
"It was very hard, my game was not on at all in the first set," Bartoli said. "Then I saw Pierce Brosnan, he is one of my favourite actors, so I thought it would be good to play a bit of tennis.
"I said to myself, it's not possible I play so bad in front of him. I saw he was cheering for me. I was focusing on him because he is so beautiful. I tried to play a little better, and here I am!
Despite being awestruck, Bartoli was able to regain her focus and accomplish something she would not have thought possible.
"I tried to focus on the ball and forget whom I was playing and where I was playing," she said. "I'm so excited to be in the final - it's like a dream come true. If you told me that before the tournament, I would not have trusted you."
Nor would most other sane people, but reaching the semi-finals of grasscourt tournaments in Birmingham and Eastbourne - where she ironically lost 6-1 6-3 to Henin - gave some indication of her abilities.
"For the moment, I don't realise really what I'm doing right now in this tournament," admitted the Frenchwoman, who was watched by her coach and father, Dr. Walter Bartoli.
"Last week, when I saw the draw, I was worried about my first-round match against Flavia Pennetta, and now I'm in the final! If you think about beating the No. 1 in the world, [on] Centre Court, almost full, then [reach] the final of a Grand Slam, especially Wimbledon; if you had told me that before, I wouldn't have believed you."
Bartoli was not the only one to think the result was unbelievable.
"I still don't really realise what happened," Henin said. "I played a very good first set, then I had a couple of chances at the end of the second set, didn't take these chances, and the match completely turned over.
"She's playing an unbelievable tournament. She was confident. She was never scared of winning the match or anything. She took the opportunities."
Despite reaching the semi-finals five times at the All England Club, Henin once again left empty-handed, remaining one title shy of the career Grand Slam.
"I'm not quite sure it's a question of pressure about winning here," the Belgian said. "I lost a lot of energy in the last few weeks. I played a lot. My match against Serena [Williams] was also very tough mentally, emotionally.
"It was hard for me to be at my best today. It's the kind of thing that can happen - but I'll have other chances in the future."
Gasquet and Bartoli show French flair at its best
By Rex Gowar (Reuters)
The French, set to thrill England with their renowned Tour de France cycling-race this weekend, stormed London a day early with upset-victories in the men's and women's singles on the Wimbledon tennis-courts on Friday.
Richard Gasquet, hailed as a prodigy in his home country at 16, upset Andy Roddick 4-6 4-6 7-6 7-6 8-6 to reach the semi-finals of a Grand-Slam tournament for the first time at 21.
Even more remarkable was Marion Bartoli's 1-6 7-5 6-1 victory over world number one Justine Henin to reach the women's final against Venus Williams on Saturday.
"Of course, I'm really happy for her. For us that's incredible," said Gasquet, who was two sets down when he began to play sublime tennis, wielding a backhand that had been hailed since he was a six-year-old as if it were a magic wand.
Bartoli, seeded 18, said she was inspired by the presence of favourite actor Pierce Brosnan in the Centre-Court crowd, but that her success as a player was down to hard work as a young teen in unorthodox circustances encouraged by her doctor father.
"The indoor courts we had were multi-surface courts: for volleyball, basketball, tennis. They have multi-lines all over, and my dad used to set me targets: if I hit the targets, I got candy," the 22-year-old said.
"On this court, the wall was one metre behind the baseline. If I stayed on the baseline, my racket touched the wall behind me, so I had to stay inside the baseline and take the ball as early as possible and hit the target."
Bartoli will be hoping she can reproduce her performance in the final against three-times champion Williams.
Venus Williams reaches 6th Wimbledon final, where she'll face Bartoli
By Howard Fendrich, AP Tennis Writer
In her sixth Wimbledon final, the 27-year-old American will find a surprising opponent on the other side of the net on Saturday: Marion Bartoli of France, who came back from a set and a break down to stun No. 1 Justine Henin 1-6 7-5 6-1.
Before this year, the lowest-ranked female finalist at the grass-court Grand Slam was Williams, who was at No. 16 when she won the 2005 championship.
This time, it's No. 31 Williams vs. No. 19 Bartoli.
"I have nothing to lose tomorrow," said Bartoli, who played 21 majors without ever making it past the third round until reaching the fourth at the French Open last month. "Venus has been the champion here already. I will try to figure out the way to play against her."
If Williams can credit her three consecutive lopsided wins over women ranked No. 2, No. 5 and No. 6 to an edge in experience and a game built for grass, Bartoli had a more unique reason for her success against Henin: Bond, James Bond.
Yes, that's right. While falling way behind against six-time Grand Slam title winner Henin, the Frenchwoman noticed actor Pierce Brosnan sitting in the stands.
"I said to myself, 'It's not possible I play so bad in front of him,"' Bartoli said, earnest as can be. "I saw he was cheering for me, so I said, 'Oh, maybe it's good.' I kept going and I won, maybe a little bit for Pierce Brosnan."
She began to turn things around after getting broken to trail 4-3 in the second set. Hitting two-fisted forehands and backhands, reminiscent of Monica Seles, Bartoli somehow started to put every ball her racket touched in the right spot.
After failing to muster a single break-point in the first set, she compiled 10 and converted six the rest of the way. After managing all of six winners in the first set, she conjured up 21 the rest of the way. After venturing to the net four times in the first set, she moved forward 21 times and won 14 of those points the rest of the way.
Bartoli mixed in all sorts of spins and angles, yanking Henin from corner to corner, forward and back - the type of frustrating stuff the Belgian normally does.
"It was like she could close her eyes and play unbelievable tennis," said Henin, who was hoping to complete a career Grand Slam. "She did everything perfectly."
Bartoli rips up the script to reach Wimbledon final
By Martyn Herman (Reuters)
Marion Bartoli was in dreamland at Wimbledon on Friday after producing the performance of her life to beat world number one Justine Henin in the semi-final.
The 22-year-old French number three looked out of her depth initially on her first Centre Court appearance, but inspired by former 007 actor Pierce Brosnan, she stormed back for an unbelievable 1-6 7-5 6-1 victory.
"I saw him in the crowd and thought it's not possible to play so bad in front of him," she said. "So maybe this was a bit for Pierce Brosnan.
"If you think I beat the world number one, Centre Court, almost full, then I'm in the final of a Grand Slam, especially Wimbledon - if you tell me that before, I wouldn't believe you."
"But I believe in myself, and on a good day I can beat anybody, and I proved it today," she added.
The daughter of a doctor who is also her coach, Bartoli is not a conventional tennis-player.
She does not have the flowing strokes of compatriot Amélie Mauresmo, last year's champion; instead, she punches the ball with double-handed backhand and forehand.
She is not very tall either, and her service-action would not be found in many coaching manuals.
But her flat groundstrokes are extremely effective.
She reached the semi-finals at both the Edgbaston and Eastbourne grasscourt-tournaments in the run-up to Wimbledon, and dispatched third seed Jelena Janković in the fourth round here.
The world number 19, whose previous best Grand-Slam run was the fourth round at this year's French Open, said her victory was reward for her father Walter.
"He's a very good doctor, a very good coach, a very good father," said Bartoli, who now lives in Switzerland.
"When I was young, we didn't have any indoor courts. We used to practise on a multi-surface court: it had volleyball and basketball lines all over the place.
"My dad used to put targets out. If I touched the targets, I would get some candy. So I was very motivated. That's why I still love candy."
Explaining her technique, she said the indoor court she used to play on had a brick wall right behind the baseline, meaning she had to adapt her strokes.
"The wall was one metre behind the baseline, so I had to take it as early as possible; I played thousands of shots like that. I learnt my game on this court."
If she can beat three-times former champion Venus Williams on Saturday it would be stretching the credibility of even the most outrageous James Bond scripts.
However, she intends to live another day.
"I've never played Venus, but I've beaten the world number one, so I've got a lot of confidence," she said. "Even if I lose the first set, I won't go out. I will try my best to win this match."
2. Final-preview: Bartoli v V.Williams
* MARION BARTOLI [18,DF,S] v VENUS WILLIAMS 
Marion has never played Venus Williams before, but should start as favourite, as she is ranked #19 to Williams's #31.
Prior to Wimbledon, Williams was having a pretty mediocre year by her own stellar standards: she won Tier III Memphis beating Shahar Pe'er 6-1 6-1 in the final, but has since lost to Maria Sharapova, Tatiana Golovin, Jelena Janković (twice) and Svetlana Kuznetsova.
These days, Williams is apt to make a lot of unforced errors, and she looked very vulnerable prior to the fourth round, struggling past Alla Kudryavtseva 2-6 6-3 7-5 and Akiko Morigami 6-2 3-6 7-5 - both on Court 2. Akiko - another Selesian - actually served for the match against Williams at *5-3 in the third!
But once she was back on her beloved Centre Court, Williams rose to the occasion to beat Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-3, Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3 6-4, and Ana Ivanović 6-2 6-4 to reach the final.
I believe that Marion can win Wimbledon by beating Venus Williams if she serves well, with plenty of body-jamming serves, keeps a good length on her groundstrokes, doesn't get pushed back behind the baseline, is aggressive on second-serve returns, is prepared to deal with Williams's net-rushing tactics with a ton of passing-shots and awkward lobs over Williams's left shoulder, and indeed takes the net away from Williams as she did so effectively against Henin. The signs against Henin were good, but Williams hits the ball much harder than Henin does, so we'll have to wait and see just how well Marion's game will match up against Williams.
Normally in an interview when the player's next opponent is not yet decided, they are asked to say something about both potential opponents. So the questions about the final in Williams's press-conference are quite amusing in retrospect:
* If this had been the case earlier, to play Justine, maybe vengeance would have been a theme, she having beaten Serena.
* Will you talk to Serena about playing Justine?
* Why do you think you have such a good record against Justine?
Williams at least had the decency to say "if she's in the final" in her response to the third question!
Dr. Andrew Broad
May 17th, 2008, 12:33 PM
THE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Wimbledon, England; grass; Grand Slam)
Final TV-report: Bartoli v V.Williams (Saturday 7th July 2007)
- MARION BARTOLI [18,DF,S] lt. VENUS WILLIAMS , 4-6 1-6
Sue Barker: "The build-up is just as important as the match itself!"
Marion: "To be in the Wimbledon-final, it's just amazing. I can't believe it right now. You have to enjoy this moment, 'cause it happens maybe just once in my life. On grass, anything can happen, and if I play like I did against Justine, I definitely believe I have my chances."
Virginia Wade: "The ball skims over the net so low from Marion."
Martina Navrátilová: "They both like to stand inside the baseline, so it'll be who can push each other back first. Venus does not like to be handcuffed, so Bartoli needs to serve into her body, and hit behind her. She needs to impose herself extremely early in the rally."
The commentators think Williams is the overwhelming favourite, and that it could be over very quickly if Marion doesn't start well. But no one reaches a Grand Slam final unless they're playing very well, and Marion /is/ ranked 12 places above Williams!
John McEnroe: "The movement, the speed, the intimidation-factor - those are what have been so impressive from Williams."
Interviews coming onto court
The famous walk onto Centre Court for a Wimbledon singles-final: Williams has experienced it six times now, Marion just this once.
Williams: "Always feels more difficult to be in the finals here, and I'm just gonna enjoy myself. I played some great tennis to get to the final, and I'm just gonna continue this trend."
Marion: "I will try to play my best today, and see how it goes. Yesterday gives me a lot of confidence, but every match is different, and I'm just so exciting to be playing the final of Wimbledon for the first time."
BARTOLI ___*@* *__ 4
WILLIAM *@*___* *@ 6
Williams won the toss and chose to serve.
The match was on Centre Court after Roger Federer's quick win over Richard Gasquet, so it started just after the not-before time, at 14:17.
Williams serving 0-0: Williams caught her first toss, but Marion hit a forehand long on the fourth stroke. 15/0. Williams hit a deep ball followed by a forehand dropshot-winner. John McEnroe: "Bartoli has great hands, but her footwork and speed are not her strengths." 30/0. Williams opened up the court and hit a sliced backhand winner down the line. 40/0. Marion hit a wild forehand return wide.
Marion serving 0-1: Williams hit a backhand long on the fourth stroke, precluding the possibility of a Golden Set. 15/0. Williams opened up the court with a crosscourt backhand, and hit a backhand winner down the line. 15/15. Marion netted a forehand off a deep return just inside the baseline. 15/30. Williams netted a forehand return. 30/30. Marion hit a stunning crosscourt forehand winner behind Williams! 40/30. Williams forced a short ball and hit a crosscourt forehand winner. 40/40. Marion challenged a first-serve fault, but Hawkeye showed that it was well wide. Marion netted a backhand off a wicked sliced backhand from Williams. Ad Williams (BP). Double fault (second serve just long).
John McEnroe: "Bartoli cuts off balls so well."
It's too early for despair yet! Marion recovered from 1-6 0-1* against Henin, has lost the first set in her last three matches, while Williams has played well in the first set of her last five matches - including her third-round struggle against that other Selesian, Akiko Morigami!
Williams serving 2-0: Williams came to the net, forcing Marion to hit a lob wide. 15/0. Williams netted a backhand. 15/15. Service-winner out wide. 30/15. Service-winner down the middle. 40/15. Williams hit a forehand halfway up the net. 40/30. Serve + crosscourt forehand winner.
John McEnroe: "So far, she hasn't been able to get inside the baseline on return of serve."
Marion looks pretty anxious at the changeover, and unfortunately Pierce Brosnan isn't here today - apparently he's attending a wedding.
Marion serving 0-3: Marion hit a low dipping pass to force a weak volley from Williams, and a forehand pass-winner down Williams's forehand-line. 15/0. Williams cracked an incredibly powerful crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. 15/15. Marion played a nice spreading rally until she mishit one slow, and Williams pounced on it with a backhand winner down the line. 15/30. Marion spread Williams again, making her run from sideline to sideline and hit a forehand pass just long. 30/30. Double fault (second serve long after an exceptionally high energy-bounce). 30/40 (BP). Williams forehand return long. 40/40. Williams mishit a forehand return just wide. Ad Marion. Williams played a good spreading rally, finishing with an unnecessary high forehand volley-winner crosscourt (Marion's pass was going wide). 40/40. Backhand return long. Ad Marion. Double fault (second serve into the net). Deuce #2. Marion's crosscourt forehand stretched Williams wide, forcing her to net a forehand. Ad Marion. Williams sprayed a forehand wide after a superb-angled crosscourt backhand from Marion three strokes earlier.
John McEnroe: "Bartoli is excellent at finding angles and making openings."
Williams serving 3-1: Second serve: Marion came in behind a deep backhand return just inside the baseline, forcing Williams to hit a forehand pass wide. 0/15. Williams crosscourt forehand winner just inside the sideline. 15/15. Williams netted a backhand. 15/30. Double fault (second serve long). 15/40 (2 BPs). Service-winner. 30/40. Williams sprayed a wild forehand long to give Marion the break back.
John McEnroe: "Seles was the first girl who really hurt you on the return - took it early. Bartoli's starting to do that now."
Tracy Austin: "Williams doesn't have that /aura/ she had when she was dominating in 2000 and 2001. The girls know that she can be streaky now."
Marion serving 2-3: Williams forehand return just long. 15/0. Williams crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline. 15/15. Marion backhand pass-winner down the line. 30/15. Marion came to the net, but Williams hit a running crosscourt backhand pass-winner onto the sideline. 40/15. Williams netted a forehand on the third stroke. 40/30. Williams sprayed a down-the-line backhand just wide.
Tracy Austin: "Bartoli is passing with precision."
John McEnroe: "She catches the ball earlier than her opponent thinks she is going to. Great hand-eye coordination. She sees the ball very early."
Williams serving 3-3: Marion forehand return wide. 15/0. Williams, getting anxious, hit a forehand wide. 15/15. Williams came to the net and hit an off-backhand drop-volley winner, despite Marion's valiant attempt to run it down. 30/15. Williams opened up the court and hit an off-forehand winner. 40/15. Williams netted a forehand off a deep, flat ball from Marion that really pushed her back behind the baseline. 40/30. Marion backhand return long.
Jason Goodall said that Marion's great strength is to take her returns very early: especially on second serves - very much like Monica Seles.
Tracy Austin: "We talk about how the Williams-sisters raised the bar. I think Seles did as well. She hit the ball so hard on both sides. There was no safe place to go."
Marion serving 3-4: Williams forehand long. 15/0. Williams went for a forehand winner down the line, but it was just wide. 30/0. Service-winner out wide. 40/0. Marion backhand just long on the third stroke. 40/15. Serve out wide + crosscourt backhand winner.
Marion has definitely settled into this match now after some initial nerves. Now it's Williams who's looking nervous.
Tracy Austin: "Bartoli does have terrific footwork. She's not speedy from A to B, but she does take lots of tiny steps to get herself on balance. Copied that from Seles too."
Williams serving 4-4: Marion netted a forehand - "a little late" [Tracy Austin]. 15/0. Marion forehand long. 30/0. Williams crosscourt forehand volley-winner. 40/0. Service-winner out wide.
Marion's father used to stick balls on her heels to force her to be on her toes! Another thing she did was to practise on an indoor court with a very narrow gap between the baseline and the back wall, forcing her to stand inside the baseline.
Marion serving 4-5: Williams hit a hard, deep crosscourt backhand, forcing Marion to earth a backhand lob. 0/15. Williams crosscourt backhand winner off a short mishit lob just inside the sideline from Marion. 0/30. Williams netted a forehand return. 15/30. Double fault (second serve just long). 15/40 (2 SPs). With the wind rising, Marion netted her first serve after a let. Williams came to the net, but Marion took her time and hit a crosscourt backhand pass-winner against the wind. 30/40 (SP #2). Williams came to the net, forced a floater from Marion, and hit a backhand drive-volley winner to Marion's right. Williams won the first set 6-4 at 15:03.
Marion may have lost the first set, but having won four of the last seven games, she might just have the momentum still.
Williams hasn't been coming to the net as much as she did against Ana Ivanović in the semi-finals.
BARTOLI ___*___ 1
WILLIAM *@* *@* 6
Williams serving 0-0: Marion ran down a dropshot but netted a backhand. 15/0. Body-jamming service-winner. 30/0. Williams hit a sliced backhand approach long. 30/15. Double fault (second serve into the net). 30/30. Serve out wide + sliced forehand down the line virtual winner. 40/30. A good serve forced a very short return, and Williams cleaned up with an off-forehand winner.
Marion serving 0-1: Marion tried to follow up a deep crosscourt backhand with a backhand dropshot, but hit it into the net. 0/15. Williams netted a backhand. 15/15. An intriguing rally ended with Williams hitting a forehand winner down the line, despite having slipped in the middle of the rally. 15/30. Marion came in behind a backhand down the line, and hit a crosscourt backhand drive-volley virtual winner. 30/30. Double fault (wild second serve very long). 30/40 (BP). A long rally ended with Williams hitting a forehand wide off a deep ball from Marion. Tracy Austin: "She was in the middle of the court, making Williams do all the running." 40/40. She hit a forehand wide off a deep return from Williams. Ad Williams (BP #2). Williams forehand return just long. Deuce #2. Service-winner. Ad Marion. She netted a backhand with Williams at the net. Deuce #3. Williams backhand smash-winner. Ad Williams (BP #3). Williams crosscourt backhand + backhand winner down the line.
Williams serving 2-0: Williams forehand just long on the third stroke. 0/15. Marion came to the net, forcing Williams to net a forehand. 0/30. Ace down the middle. 15/30. Marion netted a backhand. 30/30. Body-jamming service-winner. 40/30. Marion forehand return wide.
John McEnroe: "She's able to take the ball so early - her swings are so short."
Marion took a medical time-out for a blister on her left sole. Apparently she had it before the match, but needed to have her foot restrapped.
Williams took a medical time-out too - it looks like an adductor-muscle in her left thigh. After a lengthy evaluation, she took the MTO to get it strapped.
Marion serving 0-3: Williams sprayed a backhand wide. Prolonged clapping from the crowd made Marion smile. 15/0. Williams netted a forehand. 30/0. Williams sprayed a wild backhand very long. 40/0. Williams on the fourth stroke hit a backhand long.
Williams is limping, while Marion looks revived.
Williams serving 3-1: Marion played a fantastic spreading rally... until she netted a down-the-line forehand with an open court. 15/0. Marion netted a backhand. 30/0. Marion saw how close Williams was to the net, and hit a beautifully-flighted lob-winner over her left shoulder. 30/15. Marion backhand return wide. 40/15. Williams framed an attempted forehand smash long, off an awkward lob from Marion that was higher than Williams thought it was. 40/30. Serve + crosscourt forehand winner.
Marion serving 1-4: Williams backhand winner down the line after an exchange of crosscourt backhands just inside the sidelines. 0/15. Williams netted an unforced backhand. 15/15. Williams forehand return-winner down the line. 15/30. Marion came to the net, hit one forehand volley, but netted a forehand drop-volley winner. 15/40 (2 BPs). A crosscourt forehand from Marion on the third stroke hardly bounced at all, forcing Williams to earth a forehand. An amusing shout of "come on Marion" from some man in the crowd made everyone laugh. 30/40. Marion hit a fabulous off-backhand down the line, which bounced very low and forced Williams to earth a forehand. 40/40. Williams forehand just long. Ad Marion. She hit a backhand long. Deuce #2. Marion went for a crosscourt forehand winner onto the sideline, but it was just wide. Ad Williams (BP #3). Williams forced a short ball, and broke with a crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline.
The commentators said Marion was having both an emotional and a physical let-down after so much tennis in the last few days.
Williams serving 5-1: Marion was too weary to run down a poor dropshot from Williams, earthing a backhand. 15/0. Service-winner (125mph). Marion is feeling both wrists. 30/0. A deep backhand return induced Williams to spray a forehand long. 30/15. Williams crosscourt backhand winner onto the sideline, but Marion's not running now. 40/15 (2 MPs). A long spreading rally by Marion ended with Williams hitting a forehand long. 40/30 (MP #2). Williams made an end of things with a deep, body-jamming first serve onto the service-line which handcuffed Marion, forcing her to earth a forehand return. Williams won 6-4 6-1 at 15:48.
Marion is sitting in her chair, her lower face covered by a towel, and looking close to tears. She's a very emotional girl who has been known to be in floods of tears after matches.
Tracy Austin: "Bartoli played a great match today, but Venus just had too many weapons. Bartoli has so much to be proud of, she showed true disappointment when receiving the runner's-up trophy, and that'll take her a long way."
Marion's on-court interview
SUE BARKER: Well, I think, Marion, from the ovation you got there, you've won a lot of fans here the last fortnight. <loud cheer from the crowd>
MARION BARTOLI: Well, thank very much for coming out today and supporting me. I mean, it was awesome since yesterday already. To get all this crowd behind me helped me a lot to try to focus until the end and keep playing ??my man??. It was possible to win for me - unfortunately I didn't won today. I'm a bit disappointed, but thank you very much for your support again. <sniff>
SUE BARKER: Marion, I know you must be very disappointed, but when you look back at the Championships, you beat the world #1, the world #3 - you have so much to be proud of.
MARION BARTOLI: Yeah, I know, but I think the world #1 on grass is definitely Venus, so congratulation Venus for your awesome play here. And of course I'm very ??up here?? on my way to the final here, and I didn't believe it was a final today for me. And to play on this Centre Court on the ladies' day on the Saturday's like a dream come true for me. And this dream was impossible because of one person, and one person only: my dad, so thank you very much, Dad. <Dr. Walter Bartoli broke down and cried on Richard Williams's shoulder!>
SUE BARKER: The proud father looking on - it's great. But you've got the hands on a trophy here. You haven't been past the fourth round of a Grand Slam. You've got the runner's-up trophy - I know that's to be proud of - but there'll be many trophies to come. You looking forward to coming back next year?
MARION BARTOLI: Oh, definitely. If I'm here and speaking to you next year in the same place, with already the same trophy, I would be really happy. <laughing>
SUE BARKER: Congratulations. Fantastic tournament. Marion Bartoli!
Williams's on-court interview
"I have so many people to thank: Serena, my mom, my sparring-partner David Witt, my dad, my trainers, my physios.
"My family knows what I went through being off. It's been a long road back, but I've beaten some of the best players in the world, including Marion.
"Growing up, I always admired Pete Sampras. It's so important to win Wimbledon, especially now that we have equal prize-money. Billie-Jean King has done so much for women's tennis, and I wouldn't be here without her.
"In theory, I always believed I could do it, and I trained for it, but to actually do it is something else completely!"
Williams stood clutching the Venus Rosewater Dish, laughing with pure joy, and Marion couldn't resist making a pass at that beautiful golden plate!
Sue Barker: "Marion is such a charming girl, and the crowd really took to her."
Marion's BBC interview
Marion seemed disappointed in this interview.
"To be in the final for the first time, I couldn't really believe it. The emotions started to come out an hour before the match, when they asked me to give my outfit to the museum. It was a little too much.
"I really tried my best today, but unfortunately it was not enough, because she played some awesome tennis today.
"It was tighter than the score, but she played big tennis at the right time. And served big - 125mph for a girl! She just didn't give me the chance to coming back.
"Today I'm a little disappointing, but tomorrow will be better.
"My dad is very sensitive, and I'm sure it's more like a joy-cry than a sad cry. My brother was here; my grandparents were here as well.
"Thank you Pierce [Brosnan] - if you're watching this - for leaving a letter and some flowers in my locker-room. It was really nice to speak to him.
"I hate to lose, and if I have one more chance to be in the final, I swear to God I won't lose it again. It's really hard to see someone else holding the trophy. If I am in this position one more time, I will win it."
Williams's BBC interview
"In 2005, people said that I couldn't do it. This year, no one picked me to win. But I had other feelings about that!
"[Akiko Morigami] was playing tough [in the third round]. When you're 3-5* down, you have nowhere else to go but break, hold, break, hold.
"No one was more determined than me. I just wanted it more. I was able to pick up my game. I had to play a lot within myself - take pace off the ball, use a lot more spin than I would like.
"This tournament has been some of my best statistics on first serve, and that makes it much easier for me.
"I don't like the gym, but I do what I have to. I love what I do, I believe in my game, and I believe in the work I've put in, so there's no reason I can't come back and win. I peak at this tournament."
Venus eyes fourth Wimbledon title [CEEFAX 490->493]
Three-time champion Venus Williams will take on outsider Marion Bartoli in the Wimbledon final on Saturday.
The pair will meet for the first time after France's Bartoli caused a huge upset by beating top seed Justine Henin in the semi-finals on Friday.
Williams, seeded 23rd, will try to add to her titles of 2000, 2001 and 2005 in her sixth Wimbledon final.
The match is scheduled for 14:00 BST, although it could be delayed as it follows a men's semi-final.
BOND GIRL BARTOLI HAS TITLE MISSION [Teletext 495->496]
Bartoli has title dream [Teletext 495-> 496]
Bartoli on title mission [Teletext 496]
France's Marion Bartoli will have to do without the support of former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan when she faces Venus Williams in the Wimbledon final.
Bartoli put her semi-final victory over world No 1 Justine Henin down to the backing of a supportive Brosnan.
Bartoli said: "I said to myself, 'It's not possible I play so bad in front of him.' I saw he was cheering for me. I will be really up for the final."
VENUS WINS FOURTH WIMBLEDON TITLE [CEEFAX 490->491]
Venus wins fourth Wimbledon title [CEEFAX 491]
Venus Williams clinched her fourth Wimbledon singles title with a 6-4 6-1 win over 18th seed marion Bartoli.
After a nervy start, Bartoli, 22, matched Williams in a hard-fought first set, but finally cracked at 4-5 down.
Williams, 27, continued to pile on the pressure, and broke again after an epic opening game to the second set.
And despite needing treatment on a thigh problem, Williams powered on to victory and another title to add to those she won in 2000, 2001 and 2005.
Williams inspired by early scares [CEEFAX 491]
Venus Williams said her rocky start to this year's Wimbledon helped her beat Marion Bartoli to win her fourth title.
The American 23rd seed scraped through two of her early matches 7-5 in the final set, but found her form in the latter stages of the tournament.
"The other (titles) I felt like I was playing championship form from minute one," said the 27-year-old.
"But here I really had to focus on my game and overcome a lot of challenges. I'm very tired but I feel fantastic."
Bartoli praises strength of Venus [CEEFAX 491]
Women's runner-up Marion Bartoli paid tribute to the power of four-time champion Venus Williams.
"I really tried m best. Venus just played some unbelievable tennis," said 22-year-old Bartoli, who lost 6-4 6-1.
"She served 120mph on first serve - sometimes it was hurting my wrists because the ball was coming so fast.
"I think I played a great match, but in the end she was just too good. It's just not possible to beat her when she plays like this on grass."
VENUS CLAIMS FOURTH WIMBLEDON TITLE [Teletext 495->496]
Venus nets fourth title [Teletext 496]
Venus Williams swept to her fourth Wimbledon title following an impressive straight-sets victory over 18th seed Marion Bartoli on Centre Court.
Williams proved too strong for the unheralded Frenchwoman, despite calling for the trainer in the second set, and eased to a 6-4 6-1 triumph.
It means Williams, as the 23rd seed, becomes the lowest-ranked player ever to win the women's singles crown.
Venus - Victory so sweet [Teletext 496]
Venus Williams admitted her fourth Wimbledon title was made all the sweeter by her season-long struggle with a wrist injury.
The Los-Angeles born star defeated Marion Bartoli 6-1 6-4 to add to the titles she won in 2000, 2001 and 2005.
Williams said: "My family knows what I went through when I was off with the injury. It was a long road back, but I always believed I could do it."
Bartoli sets sights high [Teletext 496]
Marion Bartoli set her sights on winning next year's championship after coming up short against Venus Williams.
The French 18th seed defeated world No 1 Justine Henin in an epic semi-final, but was overpowered in the final as her American opponent won 6-1 6-4.
But Bartoli, who lives in Geneva, said: "I'll be happy if I come back here next year and reach the final again - with the trophy in my hands."
Bartoli admits to service struggles [Teletext 495->499] (Sunday 8th July)
Bartoli: Serve a struggle [Teletext 499]
Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli admitted she struggled to deal with the power of Venus Williams's serve.
The American regularly served at more than 120mph in a 6-4 6-1 win over Bartoli, who claimed some major scalps to reach her first Grand Slam final.
The Frenchwoman said: "You get some shock into the wrist, which I'm not used to because I don't play against girls hitting the balls like this."
Venus clinches fourth Wimbledon crown
by Angus MacKinnon for Agence France Presse (AFP)
Venus Williams joined an exclusive club of women to have won four Wimbledon titles when she overpowered surprise-finalist Marion Bartoli here on Saturday.
Although the contest was far closer than the 6-4 6-1 scoreline suggested, the American - seeded only 23rd as a result of injuries which have severely restricted her playing-schedule - always looked the more likely winner.
She added to her 2000, 2001 and 2005 titles with another turbo-charged display of tennis against an opponent who had created one of the biggest surprises in the tournament's history by beating world number one Justine Henin in the semi-final.
Bartoli, who had never previously gone beyond the fourth round at any Grand Slam tournament, had come back from a set down in the wins over Jelena Janković, Michaëlla Krajíček and Henin which had carried her to the most unexpected of final appearances.
But there was to be no repeat of those heroics against Williams, who reproduced the kind of form she had displayed in demolishing two Grand Slam winners - Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova - in her quarter-final and semi-final matches.
Williams, who has battled back to the top after missing much of last year with a wrist-injury, said she had been inspired by her sister Serena's comeback to win the Australian Open in January.
"My family know what I went through," she said. "It has been a long road back, but I am so happy to have brought it all together here."
Williams becomes only the fourth woman in the Open era to have won four Wimbledon-titles, following in the footsteps of Martina Navrátilová, Steffi Graf and Billie-Jean King.
"I always believed I could do it, but to actually do it is something else completely," she said.
The win also ensured that Williams became the lowest-seeded Wimbledon winner in the women's singles, beating her own record of winning as 14th seed in 2005.
Bartoli acknowledged that she simply did not have enough weapons at her disposal to counter the Williams arsenal on grass.
She said: "I tried to focus until the end and play my match, but the world number one on grass is definitely Venus, so congratulations to her."
Williams, 27, picked up where she had left off against Sharapova and Kuznetsova with an immaculate start to the final played in bright sunny conditions at the end of a fortnight blighted by grey skies and rain.
After holding her own serve to love, she capitalised on a nervous opening service-game by Bartoli to claim a break, and soon had moved smoothly into a 3-0 lead.
But the one-sided contest many in the Centre Court must have feared at that stage did not materialise.
The nervousness that had afflicted Bartoli in the opening games dissipated, and she rallied to level things up at 3-3 with the help of an overcooked Williams-forehand which handed her a fifth-game break of serve.
From then, there was little in it until Bartoli double faulted at 4-5 (15/30) to hand her opponent two set-points.
She managed to save the first one, but there was nothing she could do on the next one when Williams rifled a forehand down the line, followed it in, and clinched the set with a swinging backhand volley from mid-court.
Williams pressed home her advantage with a break in an exhilarating second game of the second set, claiming it at the third attempt with a fine backhand down the line after Bartoli had saved an earlier break-point by coming out on top at the end of a 21-stroke rally.
With the match slipping away from her at 0-3 down in the second, Bartoli opted for a medical break to have a foot re-strapped.
That prompted Williams to seek treatment on her left thigh, and the result was an interruption of play that lasted 11 minutes.
If Bartoli's goal had been to upset her opponent's rhythm, she appeared to have succeeded as the French player won the first game after the restart to love.
But normal service was resumed on Williams's next service-game and, at 1-4 down, Bartoli's resistance evaporated. Another break gave Williams the chance to serve for the match.
A stinging crosscourt backhand clipped the outside of the line and gave her two match-points. Bartoli saved the first, but there was nothing she could do about the unstoppable serve that Williams hammered down on the second to end the contest after one hour and 30 minutes.
Venus wins Wimbledon final against Bartoli
By Clare Lovell for Reuters
Venus Williams won her fourth Wimbledon-title on Saturday, beating French 18th seed Marion Bartoli 6-4 6-1 with a commanding performance in the final.
The American, seeded 23 after injury, took control of the match from the start. She opened 3-0 leads in each set, and never let surprise-finalist Bartoli get a foothold.
"It's been a long road back and I've had some tough losses, but I've brought it together here and beaten some of the best players in the world, including Marion," said Williams, who missed the Australian Open in January with a wrist-problem.
Williams won the toss, and took the first game to love with her powerful serve to set the tone of the match.
Bartoli, 22, won her first points on her own serve in the next game, but Williams kept up the pressure forcing her to deuce, returning hard and early, and making the break when the nervous Frenchwoman served a double fault.
The French 18th seed, who beat world number one Justine Henin in the semi-finals on Friday, finally got a game on the board in the fourth with some big forehand groundstrokes despite having a break-point against her.
With the crowd backing her as the underdog despite her higher seeding, Bartoli broke back in the fifth game on her second break-point when the American sent a forehand long.
Games went with serve until Williams, grunting with effort, upped the pace in the 10th game on Bartoli's serve.
A wild forehand gave Williams two set-points, and Bartoli saved one with a forehand pass. But she could not hold the experienced American, who claimed the set with an aggressive backhand volley after 46 minutes.
In the second set, Williams wowed the crowd with a stunning backhand smash to earn break-point for a 2-0 lead.
She completed the break with a backhand down the line that a lunging Bartoli could not reach.
Williams had looked erratic in the opening rounds, but her groundstrokes were humming and her volleys sharp on Saturday.
She raced into a 3-0 lead, and during the changeover, Bartoli took an injury time-out to have her bandaged foot re-strapped.
Immediately afterwards, Williams also requested some treatment to her groin, and Bartoli pleased the crowd by joining in their Mexican wave.
Williams returned with a strapped thigh, and seemed to have lost her range somewhat, sending groundstrokes long for Bartoli to win her serve to love.
The American, chasing a sixth Grand-Slam title, got a grip in the next game, and soon moved the score to 4-1.
Bartoli missed a volley on her serve to gift Williams two break-points in the sixth game. She saved the first with a walloping forehand, and the second with an inch-perfect backhand. Williams earned a third, and this time converted it with a backhand winner.
Serving for the match at 5-1, Williams was too experienced to falter. She set up two match-points with a sizzling backhand, and though Bartoli saved one after a tense rally, Williams converted the second with a huge serve that Bartoli could not return.
Venus Williams win Wimbledon title
By Duncan Bech, Special to PA SportsTicker
Venus Williams claimed her fourth Wimbledon singles-title with an efficient 6-4 6-1 victory over Marion Bartoli on Centre Court.
Williams, competing in her sixth final at the All England Club, overpowered her 22-year-old opponent with a display which was ruthlessly effective at key moments.
The American met with stubborn resistance throughout as Bartoli, who was clearly fatigued from yesterday's epic triumph over No. 1 seed Justine Henin, battled bravely for every point.
Bartoli had produced one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history in toppling Henin, but there was to be no fairytale ending to her fifth appearance at SW19 and best run at a Grand Slam event.
"Venus played some unbelievable tennis," Bartoli said. "I mean, she reached some balls like I never see one person reach on a tennis-court, and she would even hit it harder back to me. So I really tried my best, I think, and I played a great match, but at the end she was just too good.
"I can't say a player can beat her when she plays like this on grass. I mean, it's not possible to beat her. She's just too good, you know."
But she had made history by contesting the lowest-ranked women's final at the All England Club - Williams was seeded 23 and Bartoli 18.
Williams sounded an ominous warning when she blazed through the opening game by winning every point, and then picked apart Bartoli's serve in the second.
The Frenchwoman, ranked 19 in the world, looked nervous, and double-faulted on break-point to hand Williams a 2-0 lead. Williams was glued to the baseline where she could overpower her opponent with a string of accurate, powerful strokes.
With her stamina sapped by yesterday's epic against Henin, Bartoli double-faulted once again to concede another break-point in the fourth - only for Williams to squander the opportunity with a long forehand.
It was Williams' turn to double fault in the fifth, conceding two break points and hitting the second long to haul her opponent back into the set.
The American's error-count was growing steadily as her earlier authority vanished, largely as a result of the resistance offered by Bartoli.
Bartoli was serving to save the set in the 10th, and she wilted in the face of a ferocious onslaught from Williams, who accompanied every shot with a loud cry of intent.
A double fault handed the 27-year-old two set-points. The first was saved with a fine passing-shot, but Williams smashed the second out of reach.
Bartoli came under siege early in the second set, and initially dug herself out of trouble with a series of crisp forehands, only to then be broken by a thunderous Williams backhand.
Play was interrupted when the former junior French Open champion required treatment on an array of blisters on her left foot, and Williams followed suit, receiving attention to her left leg.
Bartoli was first up on her feet, and she grew impatient waiting for Williams, whose thigh was now heavily strapped.
When play finally resumed, Bartoli raced through her serve, and caught the eye with a precise lob which left Williams stranded.
But she conceded three break-points in the sixth, with Williams smashing a vicious backhand to claim the third.
Serving for the match, Williams ended Bartoli's resistance with an unstoppable serve to take the set 6-1 - and the title.
Williams admitted the victory was made all the sweeter by her season-long struggle with a wrist-injury that has affected her world ranking.
"I have so many people to thank. My sister Serena inspired me by winning the Australian Open at the start of the year. I wanted to be like her," Venus Williams said. "My mum helped me out in the first round, and my family knows what I went through when I was off with the injury.
"It was a long road back with some tough losses to take. But it was great to be here, and Marion was a really tough opponent. It's so exciting to win four titles. I always believed I could do it, but to actually do it is something different completely."
Bartoli paid tribute to her father and coach Walter, and set her sights on winning next year's Wimbledon title.
"I'm disappointed with the result, but I have to thank everyone on Centre Court for the support I've had," Bartoli said. "The world number one on grass is Venus, so congratulations to her for the way she played here.
"For me to play in the final on Centre Court was a dream come true, and it is possible because of one person only - my dad. Thank you Dad. I'll be happy if I come back here next year and reach the final again - with the trophy in my hands."
Bartoli falls one step short of Cinderella Wimbledon
By Rex Gowar for Reuters
Marion Bartoli's Cinderella dream at Wimbledon was not to be on Saturday, though her self-belief must surely make it a possibility in the future.
"I want this title so bad. I want it so much," Bartoli said after her 6-4 6-1 defeat by Venus Williams in the final.
"I mean, for me to win this trophy and to hold it in your hands, this is the reward you can ever imagine in tennis.
"To be able to go to the ball and wear the dress, and be with the men's champion, everything that happens in this tournament, which is the only tournament like that. I want it so bad, and I lost," the teary-eyed Frenchwoman said.
The 22-year-old surprise-finalist credited her achievement - after a shock semi-final victory over world number one Justine Henin on Friday - down to the self-belief instilled in her by her doctor father Walter.
"My dad always believed in me, in whatever I was doing. It was tennis, classical dance. Before I was doing some classical dance, some ballet," she told reporters.
"Always he has believed in me, and in my capacity to be at the best - one of the best in the world in what I was doing.
"This gives you so much confidence, so much strength; you're able to go and walk the world."
Bartoli found Williams, who chalked up her fourth Wimbledon-title, too tough, even though she was seeded five places above the American, who was 23rd having dropped down the world-rankings after injury.
"Venus played some unbelievable tennis. She reached some balls like I've never seen a person reach... and she would even hit it harder back to me," said the overawed Frenchwoman.
"She served 120 miles (an hour) on first serve. Sometimes it hurt my wrist so bad, because the ball was coming so fast to me.
"So, I really tried my best, and played a great match, but at the end she was just too good."
Bartoli added: "I'm a competitor and I hate to lose.
"Of course, tomorrow I won't be that disappointed because I will realise what I achieved, which is already awesome... and everybody will tell me that."
Actor Pierce Brosnan, who watched her thrilling win over Henin, missed the final, but was with her in spirit even if he could not inspire another upset.
"He left me a bouquet of flowers this morning with a letter in my locker-room, which I thought was really, really nice," said Bartoli.
Wimbledon lifts Venus to great heights again
By Martyn Herman for Reuters
Summertime arrived apologetically late at Wimbledon on Saturday, just as Venus Williams burst once again from the shadows to walk off with the silverware.
As she did two years ago when she came in at number 14, the imposing American made a mockery of a low seeding to prove that, when fit and healthy, not many can tame her on grass-courts.
The spirited Marion Bartoli tried her best, but ultimately the French 18th seed was ill-equipped to deny the 27-year-old Williams a fourth Wimbledon-title, losing 6-4 6-1.
"I feel fantastic. My sixth Slam... I want some more," said Williams, who began the year ranked 48th in the world and missed the Australian Open with a wrist-injury.
Her younger sister Serena, who was watching from the stands, won that Australian Open ranked 81st, and Venus said her achievement there spurred her for Wimbledon.
"When I saw her win in Australia, I knew I could do it. We love each other and inspire each other like that," Venus, whose last Grand-Slam title came here two years ago, said.
Bartoli said she had been inspired by former 007 actor Pierce Brosnan sitting in the Royal Box when she caused one of the great Wimbledon-shocks by beating world number one Justine Henin in the semi-final less than 24 hours earlier.
He missed the final, but with serves and groundstrokes exploding off the Williams-racket, the Frenchwoman needed all of James Bond's powers of self-preservation, while a few of his sneaky gadgets would have come in handy too.
Bartoli did bring her unorthodox grass-cutting double-handers to the battle, but was left standing time after time as Venus blasted 22 baseline-winners and at least as many unplayable firecrackers.
"Venus played some unbelievable tennis," said Bartoli, who learnt her game on a basketball-court.
"She served 120mph on first serve. Sometimes it was hurting my wrist so bad because the ball was coming so fast.
"Nobody can beat her when she plays like this on grass. It's not possible."
At least she appeared to enjoy her first Grand-Slam final. In one lengthy interlude midway through the second set when her opponent was having strapping applied to her left thigh, she joined in with a Mexican wave.
Venus, who broke her own record as the lowest seed (23) to win Wimbledon since computer-rankings began in 1975, had only one moment of alarm in a largely predictable contest.
After striding into a 3-0 lead, she was pegged back to 3-3 as Bartoli's low, skimming shots began to find the corners and keep Venus lurching along the baseline.
Normal service was resumed with Bartoli serving at 4-5 in the first set, however. Two scorching Williams backhand winners, followed by a Bartoli double fault, gave her set-points, and she pounced in ruthless fashion.
Bartoli's final flourish came in the second game of the second set, when she matched her American opponent shot for shot in a sequence of mesmerizing rallies.
At deuce, Williams leapt athletically to angle away a high backhand volley off an attempted topspin lob, and she eventually sealed the decisive break with another backhand bullet.
The players traded injury-timeouts at 3-0, Bartoli having her foot taped, and Venus having repairs on her thigh.
On the resumption, Bartoli held serve but Williams was simply unstoppable.
Serving with two breaks at 5-1, she finished the contest in merciless fashion. One bone-crunching first serve, clocked at 125mph, bent back Bartoli's wrist, and she clinched victory with another one that nearly cut her opponent in half.
Bartoli's defeat ended French resistance in the Wimbledon singles after Richard Gasquet had earlier been brushed aside 7-5 6-3 6-4 by Swiss world number one Roger Federer, who set up a second successive Wimbledon-final against Rafael Nadal.
Venus treasures trophy but unlikely to put it by her bed
By Sonia Oxley
LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) - Venus Williams said her fourth Wimbledon-trophy was special because she had overcome so much to win it, but that she was unlikely to swap it with her 2005 one which she keeps by her bed.
Williams got off to a wobbly start at this year's championships when she was taken to three sets in her first and third round matches.
The former world number one also had to contend with an unfamiliar seeding of 23 because of a series of injury-setbacks.
"This win, it's so much different from the others, because the other ones I felt like I was playing in championship-form from minute one," she told a news-conference after defeating Marion Bartoli 6-4 6-1 on Saturday.
"Here, I really had to focus on my game, you know, overcome a lot of challenges, including obviously being seeded low, those kinds of things."
Two years ago she also had a lower-than-usual seeding of 14, and saved a match-point against Lindsay Davenport in what was the longest women's final at the All England Club.
"The last time I won, it was a really outrageous way to win. I keep that trophy by my bed. That's the only one I keep close to me. I don't know if it [this year's] can replace that trophy, but it's so wonderful," she said.
Her sister Serena's Australian Open title this year, when ranked 81 in the world, had inspired Venus to go for it at Wimbledon, and she said her latest victory would now encourage Serena to come back with another.
"We motivate each other to get more. When she sees me win here, she's just going to go for it," she said.
"When I saw her win in Australia, I knew I could do it."
She said her main goal now was to stay fit and start adding to her collection of Grand-Slam titles.
"My sixth Slam -- I want some more," she said.
'No one picked me to win': Venus Williams claims 4th Wimbledon title
By Howard Fendrich, AP Tennis Writer
Improbable as this Wimbledon-title might have seemed, Venus Williams knew it could happen.
Far away as that trophy might have appeared only last week, Williams knew she had the game and the grit to grab it.
Oh, how her serves and strokes sizzle on the grass of Centre Court.
With a dominant run through the latter rounds, Williams became the lowest-ranked woman to win Wimbledon, beating Marion Bartoli of France 6-4 6-1 Saturday for her fourth championship at the All England Club.
"I was really motivated because no one picked me to win. They didn't even say, 'She can't win.' They weren't even talking about me," said Williams, who reached No. 1 in 2002 but entered Wimbledon ranked No. 31. "I never would doubt myself that way."
Even after missing time with a left-wrist injury? Even after being two points from defeat against a teenager ranked 59th [Alla Kudryavtseva] in the first round? Even after trailing 5-3 in the final set against someone ranked 71st [Akiko Morigami] in the third?
There really wasn't a smidgen of surprise that she once more got to clutch the Venus Rosewater Dish, as the Wimbledon-champion's plate happens to be known?
"For me? No," she said. "I just have to go out there and execute. I have the experience and everything to do it."
It was similar to the performance turned in by Williams' younger sister Serena in January, when she won the Australian Open while ranked 81st. Clearly, rankings mean nothing when it comes to the Williams-siblings. Nor does recent form.
If they are in a tournament, they can win it.
"As long as we're fit," the 27-year-old Williams said, "we just have so much more to give on the court."
Bartoli, who hits two-fisted forehands and backhands, learned that lesson quickly.
She hadn't faced Williams anywhere, let alone on grass - where balls skid more than they bounce - and Bartoli quickly discovered it was like nothing she'd ever experienced on a tennis-court.
By the end, she was flexing her wrists and shaking her hands, trying to alleviate the sting from Williams' serves at up to 125 mph.
"I'm not playing against girls every day hitting the balls like this," Bartoli said. "I mean, it's not possible to beat her. She's just too good."
Williams was forced to play her last four matches without a break, and she dropped a grand total of 22 games while beating No. 2 Maria Sharapova in the fourth round, No. 5 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals, No. 6 Ana Ivanović in the semi-finals, and Bartoli.
It was a remarkable display of shotmaking, court-coverage and consistency, match after match. Not only did Williams whip perfectly placed strokes from all sorts of angles, she repeatedly tracked down opponents' apparent winners and got them back.
Against Bartoli, she compiled a whopping 27-9 edge in winners, and won 13 of the 18 points that lasted at least 10 strokes.
"I know how to play this surface," said Williams, the first woman to receive the same paycheck as the men's champion at the All England Club. "If there's a surface to pick, grass at Wimbledon's not a bad choice."
Right from the start, Williams took it to Bartoli, going ahead 3-0. But Bartoli, who upset No. 3 Jelena Janković in the fourth round and No. 1 Justine Henin in the semi-finals, made things interesting by breaking back with the help of a double fault and two groundstroke-errors by Williams.
All the while, Bartoli stuck to her routines. Before each of her serves, she would walk to the baseline and hop high once, then bounce a couple of times, something she said relaxes her legs. Before most of Williams' serves, Bartoli would turn her back to the court and take two big cuts, a forehand and a backhand, like a batter in the on-deck circle.
After 37 minutes, things were even at 4-4. But Williams held at love, then broke to end the first set with a swinging backhand volley.
That pretty much ended the competitive portion of the proceedings.
Perhaps because the sun finally emerged from the clouds and the temperature was suddenly in the 70s - ball kids held umbrellas at changeovers to provide shade - both finalists needed medical timeouts with Williams up 3-0 in the second set.
Bartoli had her left foot treated, while Williams got down on the court to have her left leg worked on. The American played the rest of the way with a thick bandage under her white spandex shorts, which she began wearing in the second round because the skirt she planned to use was too big.
"She's a fighter," said her boyfriend, golfer Hank Kuehne. "She's one of those people that definitely has the ability to elevate her game. If that's on one leg, then she's going to do that."
As the break stretched to 10 minutes, Bartoli went to the baseline, then noticed that bored fans were doing the wave. Clearly enjoying her first Grand Slam final, she joined right along, raising her arms.
After the next point, a fan shouted, "Come on, Tim!" - the familiar rallying cry for Tim Henman - and Bartoli, who was about to serve, dropped her arms to her side and laughed. Then she turned and wagged a finger.
Williams was playing in her 12th Grand Slam final - sixth at the All England Club - and winning her sixth major title. Bartoli was in her sixth tournament-final, and never before had been beyond the fourth round at a major.
"You walk into that court," she said, "and you know you're a part of history."
When they walked off that court, the one Williams knows so well, they passed the board that lists the past champions. Already stenciled in, below similar entries for 2000, 2001 and 2005, was Williams' name, next to 2007. Clutching a bouquet of flowers, Williams stared at it, her mouth agape.
At about that time, her father was recalling that when Venus was 9, she would talk about how many Wimbledon-titles she wanted to win one day.
"I think she can win three more," Richard Williams said, "and I would be disappointed if she didn't."
At this point, who would doubt it?
Bartoli thrilled by Grand Slam final, even in defeat
By Stuart Condie, AP Sports Writer
Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli wouldn't have wanted to play anywhere else.
Not even in front of her home-fans.
"I love the French Open because, first of all, I love Paris," Bartoli said after losing to Venus Williams 6-4 6-1 Saturday in her first Grand Slam final. "But, you know, Wimbledon is so special because of all those traditions."
Bartoli upset top-ranked Justine Henin and No. 3 Jelena Janković to reach the final at the All England Club, surpassing her previous best of fourth round at Roland Garros this year.
The 22-year-old Frenchwoman said she was sad to lose, but she was still smiling while talking about the lift she got from the Centre-Court atmosphere.
"Tomorrow I won't be that disappointed, because I will realise what I achieved, which is already awesome," Bartoli said. "But right now, because I want it so bad, yes of course I'm disappointed."
The fans on Centre Court cheered when Bartoli broke Williams to make it 3-3 in the first set. They were happy again when she joined them in the wave as it passed through the stands while Williams received treatment to her leg.
"It's like you have the crowd so close to you, you feel it," Bartoli said. "You almost feel the people are cheering for you. That you really do not feel in the French Open that much, or maybe the US Open, which is even a bigger stadium."
You also don't always get a gift from a famous actor.
After beating Henin, Bartoli said she was inspired by seeing Pierce Brosnan - who used to play James Bond - in the stands. He paid her back on Saturday: She found a bouquet of flowers and a letter from him waiting in the locker-room.
EQUAL PAY: Venus Williams took home the biggest paycheck for a Grand Slam singles champion - and it's the same amount Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal will get on Sunday.
Wimbledon is paying equal prize-money to men and women for the first time this year, so Williams received $1.407 million along with her title.
Williams was among the proponents of equal prize-money, publishing an op-ed column on the issue in The Times of London during the tournament last year.
The headline read, "Wimbledon has sent me a message: I'm only a second-class champion," and Williams wrote, "How can the words 'Wimbledon' and 'inequality' be allowed to coexist?"
She mentioned the subject during Saturday's trophy-ceremony, paying tribute to Billie-Jean King's decades-long rôle in the fight for equal pay, and prompting a roar of delight from the crowd.
"Thank you, All England Club: we're playing under equal terms," Williams said.
Later, she said: "We were ready and willing to do what it took to have equality on all levels. It was just very important for us. People heard us. People believed in us."
Venus backs sister tennis act to keep on running (8th July 2007)
by Angus MacKinnon for Agence France Presse (AFP)
Venus Williams believes her fourth Wimbledon-title could herald the start of a new period of dominance for herself and her sister Serena in women's tennis.
Both sisters endured injury-blighted years in 2006, and there were plenty of pundits willing to predict that their time at the top of the women's game was nearing an end.
Those predictions were confounded when Serena came from nowhere to win the Australian Open in January, a triumph that her elder sister hailed as the inspiration for her own return to the top at the All England Club.
A 6-4 6-1 victory over surprise-package Marion Bartoli of France in Saturday's final was not as one-sided as the score suggests.
But there was never really any serious doubt that Venus, who had demolished Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova on her way to the final, would add to her 2000, 2001 and 2005 titles, taking her tally of Grand Slam titles to six - two behind Serena's haul of eight.
She said: "When it comes to Wimbledon I have more, but in the overall count I have a couple less. When I saw her win in Australia, I knew I could do it. We just love each other and inspire each other like that."
Having missed the second half of last year with a career-threatening wrist-injury, Venus had had to endure being written off as a spent force at the age of 27.
But she insisted: "I never doubted myself that I could come back. There was a lot of work behind the scenes. I started in January, I finally got to play in February, and step by step I was getting healthier and stronger, getting back to physically the way I was.
"My family know what I went through," she said. "It has been a long road back, but I am so happy to have brought it all together here.
"I definitely think Serena and I can play more finals against each other, as long as we have a chance to prepare and stay fit.
"I feel fantastic after my sixth Slam, and I want some more. It would have been wonderful if Serena [who lost to Justine Henin in the quarter-finals here] had also got to the final, and I think it could happen again, for sure."
Bartoli joked that she had lost because she did not have ex-James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan cheering her on.
The 22-year-old, who had attributed her semi-final win over Henin to the presence in the crowd of one of her favourite movie-stars, revealed that she had received a pre-match bouquet of flowers and a letter of encouragement from Brosnan.
But even that gesture could not give her the ammunition to match Williams's firepower.
"Venus just played some unbelievable tennis," Bartoli said. "She reached balls like I've never seen anyone reach balls on a tennis-court, and she even hit them back harder.
"I can't see a player who can beat her on grass when she plays like this. She's just too good, you know.
"When you receive the ball at 120mph, you get a shock in the wrist, and I'm not used to it."
Despite the disappointment at losing out in her first Grand Slam final, Bartoli said she would leave London with no regrets.
"It is not because of my nerves that I lost this match," she said. "I really played the best that I could play. Considering all the fatigue and that this was my first final, I think I did a pretty good job overall."
Bartoli, who had never previously gone beyond the fourth round at any Grand Slam tournament, had come back from a set down in the wins over Jelena Janković, Michaëlla Krajíček and Henin which had carried her to the most unexpected of final-appearances.
But there was to be no repeat of those heroics against Williams.
Williams becomes only the fourth woman in the Open era to have won four Wimbledon-titles, following in the footsteps of Martina Navrátilová, Steffi Graf and Billie-Jean King.
The win also ensured that Williams became the lowest-seeded Wimbledon-winner in the women's singles, beating her own record of winning as 14th seed in 2005.
Sampras plays a big part in Williams' success (8th July 2007)
By Frank Malley, Special to PA SportsTicker
Venus Williams served so hard to win her fourth Wimbledon singles-title that opponent Marion Bartoli was left nursing a painful wrist.
Williams' power was epitomised by the winning shot, a 126 mph unreturnable serve straight into the midriff of the 22-year-old Frenchwoman.
Williams later revealed that Pete Sampras was the inspiration behind it all.
Venus and sister Serena studied tapes of Sampras in his prime, when he was recognised as the world's most consistent server. And as they practised in Compton, California, they vowed that they would dominate the women's game as he did the men's game.
"Serena and I were inspired by anything and everything, and we always tried to have something to be an example to us," Williams said after she defeated Bartoli 6-4 6-1 in a final to parade her fourth Venus Rosewater Dish around the Centre Court.
"We would always say we needed to hold serve the way he [Sampras] did. Look, he didn't lose serve all summer. C'mon, why are we losing serve? We would pump each other up, do whatever it took to get to the next level. For a few years when he was playing, obviously, we would try to study it."
The power Williams generated is all the more remarkable considering she had been months out of the game with a damaged wrist last year, and struggled in the first half of this year to regain the form which once made her the most intimidating player on the women's tour.
She had even struggled in her earlier matches at Wimbledon.
"She served 120 miles [per hour] on first serve," Bartoli said. "Sometimes it was hurting my wrist so bad because the ball was coming so fast to me.
"It was a little tight, because when you receive a ball at 120 miles, you get some shock into the wrist which I'm not used to, because I don't play against girls every day hitting the balls like this."
That's because, other than Serena, no other woman comes close to Venus' power on a regular basis.
The intriguing question now is whether Williams, who joined the four-time Wimbledon-champion club inhabited by Martina Navrátilová, Steffi Graf and Billie-Jean King in the Open era, can go on to win more Wimbledons and more Grand Slams.
At 27, she is young enough, given health and fitness, but the desire and concentration has sometimes been lacking in the Williams-sisters.
At times, they have appeared to get bored with tennis, and been unwilling to do the hard yards required of a champion, preferring instead to pursue other challenges such as acting and fashion.
Venus, however, insisted that possessing more Wimbledon-titles than Serena, who has three, will act as an incentive for them both.
"It's not necessarily a competition," Venus said. "But we do motivate each other to get more. When she sees me win here, she's just going to go for it.
"When I saw her win in Australia, I knew I could do it. We inspire each other like that."
As it was, Venus saved her best tennis for the final, her telescopic arms and legs allowing her to get to the punishing groundstrokes of an opponent who battled for every ball.
The first set might have gone either way until Williams pulled out a brilliant 10th game and one sublime backhand drive-volley.
The second was when Williams dominated, before and after the bizarre 11-minute medical timeout at 3-0, during which both players had treatment from the trainer: Williams for a strained adductor-muscle, and Bartoli for blisters.
When they returned, it was routine for Williams, who received a generous tribute from her opponent.
"When she plays like this on grass, it's not possible to beat her," Bartoli said. "She's just too good."
Against All Odds, Venus Prevails
Despite her three previous titles at the event, she was largely unheralded coming into the Wimbledon-fortnight this year. But she never counted herself out; on Saturday afternoon, Venus Williams beat tournament-darling Marion Bartoli to add her name to the appropriately-named Venus Rosewater Dish once again.
Having sat out the better part of eight months between last July and this February with a left-wrist injury and put together somewhat up-and-down results since her return, the former No.1 briefly dropped out of the Top 50, and came into the tournament ranked No.31. Though raised in the seedings by the All-England Club, her No.23 seed hardly gave her a favourable draw. For the first time in years, Williams was a dark horse.
In the early rounds, Williams definitely looked like a long shot. Russian teenager Alla Kudryavtseva held a 3-1 third-set lead on her, while Japan's Akiko Morigami had her 5-3 in the third; but the American didn't buckle, eventually stringing together wins over No.2 seed Maria Sharapova, No.5 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and No.6 seed Ana Ivanović to reach her sixth final in the last eight Wimbledons.
"At 3-5, there's nothing else to do except win that game; I had to do it," Williams said. "In a way, maybe I was destined to play Morigami, because by the time I played Bartoli, I was ready for those flat, short, low balls. I had already seen that shot. For me, it was great to have played Morigami, because it helped me today."
Meanwhile, Bartoli was putting together an even more shocking run as the No.18 seed, an easy win over No.16 seed Shahar Pe'er in the third round opening the floodgates for a 3-6 7-5 6-3 win over No.3 seed Jelena Janković in the fourth round, a 3-6 6-3 6-2 win over No.31 seed Michaëlla Krajíček in the quarters, and a stunning 1-6 7-5 6-1 win over No.1 seed Justine Henin in the semis. Those wins propelled her into her first Grand-Slam final.
Despite being the two lowest-ranked players in WTA-Tour history to get to the title-match at The Championships, Williams and Bartoli put on an impressive display of power-tennis; but the agility of Williams was something of a deciding-factor, carrying her into net 17 times, and helping her retrieve that much better during the rallies; and after a somewhat tight first set, she pulled away from Bartoli, ending the 6-4 6-1 win with a 124mph unreturnable serve into the body.
"Obviously I feel on top of the world," Williams said. "This is a great surface for me. I know when to play it high or when to play low - I know how the ball's going to bounce. If there's a surface to pick, grass at Wimbledon isn't a bad choice."
"Venus played some unbelievable tennis; she reached some balls I've never seen a person reach like that on a tennis-court, and she hit it harder back to me," said Bartoli. "I really tried my best and I played a great match, but at the end she was just too good. I can't see a player beating her when she plays like this on grass."
In 2005, Williams was the lowest-ranked player ever to win Wimbledon, and now she breaks her own record. It reaffirms that no matter what the state of her game going into the event, her aura redefines itself at the All-England Club.
"This win is so much different from the others, because the other ones I felt like I was playing in championship-form from minute one; here, I really had to focus on my game and overcome a lot of challenges, including being seeded low."
In spite of her breakout-run, Bartoli was visibly disappointed after the final.
"I wanted this title so bad. For me to win the trophy and hold it in my hands would be the best reward you could ever imagine. To be able to go to the ball and wear the dress and be with the men's champion, just everything that happens in this tournament. I wanted it so bad and I lost. I'm a competitor, and I hate to lose. Tomorrow, I won't be that disappointed because I will realise what I achieved, which is already awesome, of course. But right now, of course, I'm disappointed."
Williams and Bartoli weren't the only headline-makers of the Wimbledon-fortnight. A few of the players pegged to make deep runs here, like defending champion Amélie Mauresmo, former champion Martina Hingis and 's-Hertogenbosch champ Anna Chakvetadze, were sent home earlier than expected, while some newer faces like Michaëlla Krajíček, Tamira Paszek, Nicole Vaidišová and Ana Ivanović all made career-best runs on the slick lawns of the All-England Club.
Then, of course, there was the incredible fight from the eventual champion's young sister Serena Williams, who valiantly battled through leg-cramps to win her fourth-round match with Daniela Hantuchová, then pushed Henin to three in the quarters while suffering from a thumb-injury. Needless to say, the Williams Wimbledon-legacy was as strong as it has ever been, with Venus getting the last word in.
"I always imagined winning lots of Wimbledons. But when you start doing it, you realise how blessed you are to be able to do what you do, and it's just amazing, it really is. I don't take anything for granted anymore. I appreciate being healthy, being able to have a chance just to play. I'm just trying to do my personal best."
Venus Claims Her Fourth Crown
Written by Ronald Atkin for www.wimbledon.org
Venus Williams and the Venus Rosewater Dish were reunited on Centre Court today when the 27-year-old collected her fourth Championship with a 6-4 6-1 victory over France's Marion Bartoli that was harder earned than the score would indicate.
Never before in Wimbledon's modern era had the women's final been contested by players so lowly-ranked. Williams, ranked 31 after an injury-hit year of little activity, was awarded the 23rd seeding on the strength of her previous record here, while Bartoli was seeded 18th.
Williams collected Ł700,000 for her one hour and 30 minutes victory, the first year of equal pay for men and women at Wimbledon, but her delight at the end showed that the money meant little to this millionairess whose prospects of another title here had been largely discounted.
Venus had proved, and how, that she is still a Grand-Slam contender, despite having arrived at Wimbledon with just seven tournaments this year and one victory, at Memphis in February.
The 22-year-old Bartoli's high moment had come in the semi-finals on Friday evening, when her rocketing groundstrokes pole-axed the world number one and top seed, Justine Henin. Today those were less effective because of Venus's longer reach and speed around the court.
The way the Centre Court crowd got behind Bartoli was clear indication that they feared a one-sided contest. That this did not happen was due to a combination of Bartoli's dogged determination to give no ground to such famous opposition, and to the fact that Venus had one of her less accurate days.
She certainly started impressively enough, breaking Bartoli in the second game thanks to a double fault from the Frenchwoman. That was elevated to 3-0 before the fightback began, although Venus had a point for a 4-0 lead (on another double fault).
Then Bartoli settled, buoyed by the crowd's support, stretching Williams from side to side with her flat, raking groundstrokes from her double-fisted grip.
She broke Williams when Venus sent a wild forehand sailing over the baseline and then levelled the match at 3-3, courtesy of two more poor Williams backhands. Could this become another thriller, like the Henin match?
As it turned out, no. Bartoli, gallantly though she played, always looked the inferior performer against such classy opposition, and when her fifth double fault of the match presented Venus with two set-points, Bartoli was able to fight off only one of them before Williams stroked away a sweet backhand volley. The set had lasted 45 minutes.
The second set followed a similar course, with Williams breaking serve in the second game and going 3-0 up, at which Bartoli took time out for treatment to her left foot. Williams then also asked for treatment to her left leg, leading to a stoppage in all of 11 minutes.
When play resumed, Bartoli won the first game to love, but that was effectively the end of her resistance. Venus sailed through the next three games, ending with a thunderous serve.
Bartoli, clearly delighted with having reached this stage of the tournament, congratulated Williams, calling her "the best player on grass in the world." Today she proved that.
Consolation Bond Bouquet for Bartoli
Written by Ronald Atkin for www.wimbledon.org
There were consolations for Marion Bartoli in today's defeat in the women's final of the 2007 Championships. Things started well when the James Bond actor, Pierce Brosnan, who had watched her semi-final win over Justine Henin on Friday evening, left the 22-year-old Frenchwoman a bouquet of flowers and a letter in the locker room before she went on court for the final.
And her runner-up prize money of Ł350,000 ($700,000) is almost half her total career-earnings. There will be consolation, too, in the knowledge that when the new rankings are issued on Monday, Bartoli will be at a career-high 11. Had she beaten Venus Williams, she could have been inside the top 10.
She was also handed a bottle of c********, which she passed on to her father and coach, Dr. Walter Bartoli, to whom she paid full tribute. "I have worked with my dad for 16 years, and he always believed in me, whatever I was doing," she said. "Before tennis, I was doing some classical dance, some ballet. In this tournament, I was able to show everybody what I was able to do on a tennis-court, and this happened because of him."
However, Bartoli could not banish the disappointment she felt. "I wanted this title so bad. To win this trophy and to hold it in your hands is the best reward you can imagine in tennis. I'm a competitor and I hate to lose - really hate to lose.
"But tomorrow I won't be that disappointed, because I will realise what I achieved, which is awesome of course. And everybody will tell me that."
Though she reiterated her loyalty to her "home" Grand Slam, the French Open, Bartoli said she considers Wimbledon special because of its traditions. "To walk on Centre Court, to see the trophies, to see the Prince coming on court, you know you're a part of history. All this stuff makes this tournament really, really special. I mean, it's going to be forever that I will be the finalist of Wimbledon '07."
Tomorrow it will be back to what she calls "reality" for Bartoli. "I will be in my garden, alone with my cat, and everything will be back to the usual. I think it's a very good thing to bring you back to earth, to get back to work."
But, as she points out: "If I keep this up, I will be in the top ten for sure."
All Hail Valiant Maid Marion
Written by Kate Battersby for www.wimbledon.org
If there is a living embodiment of the word "charm" at Wimbledon this year, then its name is Marion Bartoli. Just one week ago, few on the Centre Court could have put a name to her face.
Today they called out their love for her, laughing when she conducted them in a Mexican Wave to pass the time while Venus Williams had her left thigh strapped by the trainer at courtside. "Come on, Maid Marion!" called out one wit in the crowd. Bartoli smiled at that one, but wagged her index finger in mock disapproval when another in the crowd selected the old joke of calling encouragement to a player not present on court: "Come on, Tim!"
Yet this was not a crowd turning its back on Venus. Her star is rising again, and the Centre Court's admiration for her was plain. How curious that this ungainly, unlikely pair should find themselves lining up for the Wimbledon final.
When 22-year-old Bartoli lost the first set, no one gave it much of a thought – by now the magnificent comeback was expected of the Frenchwoman, after her feats against Justine Henin and Jelena Janković. But this was a match too far for the player who had never been beyond the fourth round of any Grand Slam tournament before this one.
Perhaps she was thrown by the unaccustomed experience of actual warmth from the sun this Wimbledon. Maybe it was the absence of her Friday inspiration Pierce Brosnan from the Royal Box. The name of the former James Bond actor appeared on the official guest-list for an unusual second successive day, but he never appeared. No doubt he was indeed at a wedding, as he had said he would be. Perhaps she was fazed by the sheer size of Venus, and the fact that she was giving away six inches (15cm) in height and reach.
In any case, this time Bartoli could not come back, and a fourth Wimbledon-title belonged to Venus. In previous years the older Williams sister has capered about the court in wild celebration at her moment of victory, arms windmilling. Not today. This was an older, more reflective Venus, who simply couldn't stop smiling.
"Four!" she called out to her father Richard, holding up four fingers in celebration of her Wimbledon collection. A few yards away Bartoli sat on her chair at courtside, smiling no more, and quietly wept. Sweetly, just before the match began, she told the BBC: "I'm just so exciting [sic] to be here." Truly, there are few sounds more charming to the British ear than to hear slightly imperfect English in a French accent. But in the immediate moments after her defeat, that earlier excitement was pushed aside. Defeat is bitter, especially on the greatest stage.
She was emotional in her speech, generously acclaiming Venus as the best player on grass in the world. Then as her voice shook, she said she had "one person to thank and one person only – my dad". Dr. Walter Bartoli, who introduced his daughter to tennis at the age of six, nodded at her from the players' box, and then covered his eyes as his loving pride in his daughter overtook him.
The 2007 Official Media Guide to Professional Tennis helpfully tells us that Bartoli's most memorable tennis-experiences have been winning the US Open juniors and playing Lindsay Davenport on the Arthur Ashe Stadium. Possibly she might want to list a new most memorable experience in next year's guide.
Of course, the day belonged to Venus. She, too, was big-hearted to her opponent, praising Bartoli's astonishing achievement in reaching the final. As ever she thanked her "team" in the relatives' box – her mother, father, and of course Serena "who inspires me – I want to be like her". There may be a lot wrong with modern sport, but we can't quite be facing Armageddon when sport's highest achievers make it plain that family is at the root of all triumph.
Venus Takes The Fourth
By Tennis Week <http://www.sportsmediainc.com/tennisweek/>
The Centre Court roof was removed as part of part of Wimbledon's remodelling, but by the end of today's women's final it was tennis' top interior designer who transformed tennis' most treasured landscape into a regal setting for her stunning self-reclamation project.
Empowered by the strong sense of self-belief that was as evident in her eyes as the sweat that poured from her pores, 23rd-seeded Venus Williams resurrected her career as a Grand-Slam champion by reclaiming the Wimbledon-championship for the fourth time with today's 6-4 6-1 victory over France's Marion Bartoli.
Untouchable on serve for much of the match, the lowest-seeded woman to win Wimbledon in history continued a remarkable rise to her first career Grand-Slam championship with a spontaneous ascent. When Williams unloaded a 124mph missile down the middle to conclude the 90-minute match, she soared in the sky and landed on the most prestigious patch of grass in the sport wearing a wide smile of a winner.
Then Williams embraced the famed Rosewater Dish with the heart-felt hug of a woman reunited with a long-lost family heirloom.
"It's so exciting we've done so well here the last eight years," said Williams, who ruled Wimbledon in 2000, 2001 and 2004. "Each time is more special than the other, and this time was more special. I was the lowest seed and no one expected me to win, of course, but I always expect to do very, very well, so it's so exciting."
On the 50th anniversary of Althea Gibson's historic triumph as the first African-American to win Wimbledon, Venus returned the Rosewater Dish to the Williams-sisters' trophy-collection. The sisters who learned to play on the cracked public courts of Compton, California, own the film-rights to Gibson's life-story, and have scripted memorable Grand-Slam stories in combining to collect two of the three majors this season. Venus and Serena, who started the season with an audacious run to the Australian-Open championship, have collected 14 Grand-Slam singles-championships between them, including six of the last eight Wimbledon-titles.
The 27-year-old Venus joins Martina Navrátilová and Billie-Jean King - who were both in the Royal Box watching the final - and Steffi Graf as the fourth woman in Open-Era history to win four Wimbledon-crowns.
"[Althea Gibson] was a beautiful person, and she achieved so much, so people like Althea Gibson and Billie-Jean King made such a difference in me being here, doing what I do," Williams said.
It was a remarkable run to the title for a woman largely written off as a legitimate title-contender. Williams, who had not reached a major final since she saved match-point to defeat Lindsay Davenport 4-6 7-6(4) 9-7 victory in a thrilling 2005 Wimbledon final, teetered on the edge of elimination in both the first and third rounds of this fortnight.
Playing with grit, while trying to find consistency on her forehand and second serve, she gutted out a 2-6 6-3 7-5 win over Alla Kudryavtseva in the opening round. Three points from elimination in the third round, Williams roared back to win the final four games to fight off Akiko Morigami, 6-2 3-6 7-5.
Her strong self-determination carried her through those matches until she found the range and rhythm on her serve and strokes in the second week. Then, she blistered three of the biggest hitters of the game in succession: second-seeded Maria Sharapova, fifth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova and sixth-seeded Ana Ivanović.
"Determination [was the key]," Williams said. "I was determined. It's something that kicks in, and I was so glad it kicked in. That's what makes winning it so special: One day you're on the brink, and then there you are holding the plate."
Grass accelerates the pace and accentuates Williams' assets: her athleticism, power and ability to punctuate points with winners from almost anywhere on the court. From 4-4 in the opening set, Williams imposed her game on the smaller Bartoli in winning five straight games to blow open the match.
"Venus play some unbelievable tennis. I mean, she reached some balls like I never see one person reach some ball like that on a tennis-court, and she would even hit it harder back to me," Bartoli said. "She served 120 miles on first serve. Sometimes was hurting my wrist so bad, because the ball was coming so fast to me. So I really try my best I think, and I play a great match, but at the end she was just too good. I can't say a player can beat her when she play like this on grass. I mean, it's not possible to beat her. She's just too good, you know."
The 18th-seeded Bartoli won eight of the last nine games to shock World No. 1 Justine Henin in Friday's semi-finals and spoil the prospect of a Wimbledon-final rematch between Williams and the woman she beat to win her second Wimbledon-title in 2001.
At first glance, the 5-foot-6 Frenchwoman with hair that flows beyond her shoulderblades looks as intimidating as your local librarian, and until this year, her track-record at majors was largely a story of futility. Bartoli had not surpassed the third round of a Grand-Slam tournament in her first 21 major-appearances, but she reached the round of 16 at last month's French Open, where she was blown out, 6-1 6-1, by Jelena Jankovic. Shaking that setback off as easily as a woman shrugging off a stray strand of felt, Bartoli beat the third-seeded Jankovic the fourth round of Wimbledon.
Continuing her campaign of creeping four feet inside the baseline to terrorise opponent's serves with her two-handed compact strokes off both wings, Bartoli haunted Henin with her positioning and probing returns.
Addressing her attack at Williams' occasionally unstable forehand, Bartoli battled back from a 0-3 deficit by coaxing Williams into a double fault and a forehand error to break back for 1-3. Bartoli's ability to take the ball exceedingly with her two-handed strokes is reminiscent of her tennis role-model, Monica Seles, and though she lacks the power of the woman who was also one of the Williams-sisters' favourite players, she compensates with impeccable timing. That skill briefly unsettled Williams.
Four feet from the net, she netted a backhand, and when Williams misfired a backhand wide, Bartoli was back on even terms at 3-3. The pair both held as the set escalated to 4-4 before Williams - who had taken a bit off her first serve in an effort to diminish Bartoli's looks at second serves - began to open up on her biggest weapon.
Unleashing searing serves into the body, Williams held at love for 5-4.
The serve was a key component to Williams' success: she connected on 70% of her first serves, won 77% of her first-serve points, faced two break-points, and dropped serve only once in the match. In contrast, Bartoli, who bounces on her toes rather than bouncing the ball before her toss, landed 63% of her first serves, won 60% of those points, and was broken four times by the bigger-hitting American.
Grunting with the force of a woman slamming shut a steel door in the face of a wind-storm, Williams leaned into a backhand and lashed a crosscourt winner to take a 0/30 advantage. Two points later, Bartoli double-faulted to hand Williams two set-points. She drew Williams to net with a short ball, then rifled a backhand pass crosscourt that eluded Williams' expansive wingspan to save the first set-point.
But Bartoli missed her first serve, and Williams immediately moved four feet inside the baseline to receive the second, sending a clear signal through her positioning she was prepared to punish a short second serve. Williams made good on her threat.
Unloading a vicious backhand return, Williams moved in quickly to drill a forehand down the line, then cut off the angle of Bartoli's defensive pass and smacked a swinging backhand volley-winner to collect the first set with a clenched fist.
Gobbling up vast expanses of grass with each sizeable stride like a long jumper soaring in mid-flight, Williams began to intimidate with each step setting up every vicious swing. She swatted an inside-out forehand winner to open the second set with a hold at 30.
Throughout the first set, Bartoli bounced around the court as if she launching herself off a springboard embedded in the grass. But the sheer power and physicality of Williams' play began to take a toll by the second game. Bartoli hit her fifth double fault to face a break-point.
Pausing for a moment to catch her breath, Bartoli started the point, and the ensuing 21-shot slugfest saw Bartoli boldly take the battle right at Williams as the pair traded biting baseline-blasts before Williams blinked and missed a forehand wide. Bartoli would save a second break-point when Williams lifted a forehand return deep, and eventually earned a game-point, but it would prove to be a brief reprieve.
At deuce, Williams approached and Bartoli responded with a well-placed lob that sent the long-limbed American scurrying backward. Against virtually any other women in the field, the lob would have at least prolonged the point if not landed as an outright winner, but lobbing Williams on this point was as easy as trying to transform Big Ben into a pocket watch. In a sensational display of her athleticism and explosiveness, Williams soared and snapped off a slick backhand overhead winner. She drove a backhand down the line to break for 2-0.
Williams, who finished with 29 winners compared to seven for Bartoli, simply possess more weapons and competed with the self-confidence of a woman contesting her 12th major-final.
After Williams held for a 3-0 lead, Bartoli called for the trainer to treat a two-inch blister on her left foot. Revived from the break, she held at love for 1-3. Successive forehand errors from the first-time finalist staked Williams to a 30/love lead, but Bartoli responded with two thoughtful lobs in the next three points to creep to 40/30. It was then that Williams put her foot down. From a deep knee-bend, she quickly turned her shoulders and hips, and pounded a crosscourt forehand winner to hold for 4-1.
"I thought after the first set, she step it up so bad. I mean, she try to hit as hard as she could, and serve to my body 125 miles, which against Justine I never had those kind of balls to return," Bartoli said. "I still had my chances in the second set, but in the end she was just too good. But right now, still believe I could make it. I didn't, but I had some chances to make it."
When Bartoli's forehand volley stuck to the top of the tape like a yellow magnet to the surface of a refrigerator-door before toppling back on her side of the net, Williams had two break-points in the sixth game. But the feisty French player was not done yet. Continuing to step inside the court, Bartoli provoked three errors from Williams to take the advantage. She had a clear look at an open expanse of court, but missed a backhand down the line long. It would be her last real shot at slowing Williams. Another Bartoli error gave Williams break-point, and she broke serve with a backhand winner.
Another blistering backhand winner crosscourt brought her to triple championship-point. There wasn't a trace of nerves in Williams as she stared down the inviting green expanse of the service-box, and launched herself into a thunderous 124mph serve down the middle that sealed her fourth career Wimbledon-championship in stirring style.
Six months after sister Serena - then ranked No. 81 in the world - dismantled Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final, 6-1 6-2, to capture her eighth Grand-Slam championship, Venus collected the family's 14th major-championship as the sisters have combined to win two of the three Grand-Slam titles this year.
Williams has been counted out as a major title-contender more times than she cares to count, but continues to discount her critics as if casting aside a break-point with a service-winner, and shows the ability to summon her best tennis when it matters most.
Tennis has always been part of Venus' life, but never her sole purpose in life. Responding to suggestions that her interest in regaining her place among the game's elite has subsided as she pursues other interests such as her interior-design business, V Starr Interiors, Williams has long contended she's committed to her tennis-career. She competes on her terms, and on a sunny Saturday on Centre Court, she shed the curtains of doubt surrounding her status, and once again revived her championship-status on the game's greatest stage.
Venus wins fourth Wimbledon title
By Sophie Brown
BBC Sport at Wimbledon
Venus Williams clinched her fourth Wimbledon singles title with a 6-4 6-1 victory over 18th seed Marion Bartoli.
After a nervy start, Bartoli, 22, matched Williams in a hard-fought first set but finally cracked at 4-5 down.
Williams, 27, continued to pile on the pressure and broke again after an epic opening game to the second set.
And despite needing treatment on a thigh-problem, Williams powered on to victory and another title to add to those she won in 2000, 2001 and 2005.
"It's so exciting," 23rd seed Williams, whose season has been plagued by a wrist-injury, told BBC Sport.
"It's been a long road and I've had some tough losses but I brought it together here."
Bartoli said that she had been overwhelmed by the power of the older woman.
"In the end, she was just too good," she said.
It was Williams' sixth final while Bartoli had never been beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam until her run this year at the All England Club.
So it was not surprising that the French woman began nervously, double-faulting on break point to concede her opening service game.
But she worked her way into the match and broke back to 2-3.
Williams kept trying to pressurise her opponent, rushing to the net at every opportunity, but Bartoli was more than holding her own and raking winners around the court.
But after holding out to 4-5, the French woman cracked again, double-faulting twice to give the first set to the American, who had been the overwhelming pre-match favourite.
The usually placid Williams' relief at coming through the first set was evident as she pumped her fist after clinching it, and she again stepped up the pressure at the beginning of the second set, breaking in a lengthy opening game that proved pivotal.
The Centre Court crowd, always on the side of the underdog and enjoying the French player's unorthodox style and evident enjoyment of the whole occasion, tried to rouse Bartoli.
But Williams, who had an injury time-out to have her left thigh strapped at 3-0 up in the second set, was into her stride and proved too strong.
She broke again at 4-1 and then served out to take the championship after exactly one and a half hours on court.
Williams inspired by early scares
By Sophie Brown
BBC Sport at Wimbledon
Venus Williams said her rocky start to this year's Wimbledon helped her beat Marion Bartoli to win her fourth title.
The American 23rd seed scraped through two of her early matches 7-5 in the final set but found her form in the latter stages of the tournament.
"The other [titles], I felt like I was playing championship-form from minute one," said the 27-year-old.
"But here I really had to focus on my game and overcome a lot of challenges. I'm very tired, but I feel fantastic."
Williams had been a break down in the final set in her first-round match against Alla Kudryavtseva and also in her third-round tie with Akiko Morigami, whose style she said was similar to Bartoli's.
She said: "By the time I played Bartoli, I was ready for those short, flat, low balls. I had already seen that shot.
"Playing Morigami helped me out today."
It was Williams' sixth Grand Slam win and puts her just two behind younger sister Serena.
"We motivate each other to get more," said Venus.
"When I saw her win in Australia, I just knew I could do it here. We just love each other and inspire each other like that."
Williams is the first women's champion to benefit from the All England Club's decision to offer equal prize-money to the male and female winners and she said that made victory even more special.
"It was the right thing to do," said the 23rd seed, who paid tribute to equal-rights champion Billie Jean King after her victory on Centre Court.
"It was just very important for us. We're role-models around the world."
Bartoli said that Williams' power had been too much for her handle.
"I really tried my best. Venus just played some unbelievable tennis," said the 22-year-old.
"She served 120mph on first serve - sometimes it was hurting my wrists because the ball was coming so fast to me.
"I think I played a great match, but in the end she was just too good. It's just not possible to beat her when she plays like this on grass.
"But I think I showed everybody what I was able to do on the tennis-court."
The French player, who delighted the Centre-Court crowd with her good-natured display, was tearful at the end of the match, and admitted she had been desperate to win.
"I wanted this title so bad," said the world number 19.
"For me to win this trophy and hold it in my hand is the best reward you could ever imagine in tennis. Wimbledon is so special because of all the tradition.
"I really hate to lose. Of course tomorrow I won't be that disappointed, because I realise what I have achieved, which is awesome.
"Right now, because I wanted it so bad, yes, of course I'm disappointed."
Game-by-game updates at BBC Sport:
Dr. Andrew Broad
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