Venus Williams hit 54 winners in the final of Stanford’s Bank of the West Classic on Sunday and still lost the match. And no, it wasn’t to her sister, who went out to Sam Stosur in the quarters. Venus Williams lost to the quirky Frenchwoman, Marion Bartoli: 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.
Bartoli credited her success to improved movement and fitness and also to her mental toughness, which she needed badly after failing to serve out the second set.
“What makes me special is that I’m really mentally tough.” Bartoli said after the match.
Coached by her equally, uh, off-beat father, Dr. Walter Bartoli, Marion said that the father-daughter coaching relationship between Venus and Richard Williams inspired her own developement.
“People would say I wouldn’t be any good at tennis if I let my dad coach me.” Bartoli explained. “That was about the time Venus was just starting out and coached by her dad. She went to No. 1. That helped me develop mental toughness.“ (via ESPN)
“Venus is one of the greatest champions ever,” Bartoli added. She fell victim to Venus’s championship qualities the last and only time they met – in the finals of Wimbledon, 2007. “That’s what I practice for, to play her. To beat her is even better.”
Marion’s father, who is known for taping tennis balls to the soles of his daughter’s shoes and having her practice her serve with an L-shaped pipe instead of a racquet, employs bizarre mental drills, too:
“He told me before the week there’s no way I would make the final,” Bartoli said. “Today he said the only goal was to avoid losing 6-0, 6-1.“
I like having a character like Bartoli on tour. She’s refreshing and strange, like a blast of licorice flavored pastis on a warm day in Provence. Or a almost-frozen Twinkie. Yum!
Here’s an example of one Dr. Bartoli’s nutty training exercises. Richard, are you taking notes?
Is Marion training for tennis or A Chorus Line? No matter, she’s entertaining either way!