MARION Bartoli has become the cult hero of the French Open after an edict from her father to put on a few extra kilos.
Spurning the modern trend led by the statuesque Maria Sharapova that skinnier is better and more successful in women's professional tennis, Bartoli - like a pocket rocket at 170 centimetres and 58 kilograms - charged into the fourth round in Paris by riding the deafening support from French fans to stun Russia's 13th seed Elena Dementieva 6-2, 6-4.
Australia's former Davis Cup coach Wally Masur, covering the tournament for Fox Sports, said the 22-year-old Frenchwoman's father Walter had encouraged her to add some beef to her frame to give her groundstrokes more power.
Vertically challenged compared with the towering figures of Sharapova (188cm) and Venus Williams (185cm), Bartoli also uses an unusually long and powerful 73cm racquet to help level the playing field.
Walter Bartoli, a doctor, rarely leaves the side of his daughter on tour. Bartoli, who now plays Serbian Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round, dislikes having her mother Sophie at tournaments - and Sophie has little interest in joining the masses in Paris pushing Bartoli deeper into the tournament.
"She works," Bartoli said of her mother. "She doesn't like to see a lot of my tennis matches. She's very nervous when I play and I feel it on the court. I prefer she stays at home."
Bartoli has a significantly fuller figure than three years ago and her career has flourished. She's ranked No.21 in the world and her defeat of Dementieva moved her to a new level in 22 grand slam appearances.
"He provides me the support I need, it helps me that he is there," she said of her father.
Bartoli is not unfit. She's strong, in the mould of a mini Serena Williams. It's her way of doing what the diminutive former world No.1 Martina Hingis has struggled to achieve since her return last year from retirement: matching the firepower of the Williams sisters and Sharapova.
"I need to be careful that she enjoys it - the most important thing is that she is happy and healthy," Walter was quoted as saying. "If we decided to stop tomorrow, I could get a job somewhere in two days."
Bartoli's next opponent has also undergone a transformation from sourpuss to smiling assassin after threatening to quit the tour last year.
"It helps me stay relaxed," the fourth seed Jankovic said after beating Venus Williams 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.
"I smile on the court. I have really positive people in my player box, so it helps me to play and releases the tension on the court.
"I am the person who likes to laugh a lot. Even before the match we were, I think, my group, my team, I think you could hear us.
"We are the only ones who are so loud. And the others, they're always laughing, always making jokes.
"Then when you see the other players so quiet in the corner, you don't hear them.
"It's just how we are. I really enjoy the game. Why not? When it's a good point, why not smile?"