WIMBLEDON -- It’s something of a cliché to discuss the obstacles that athletes have overcome to reach the pinnacle of their respective sports. Yet, if not for encountering difficulty along the way they might not have developed the determination that pushes them on the field, ice or tennis court, and both women who will play in Saturday’s Wimbledon final have endured some difficult times.
For Marion Bartoli, the No. 15 seed, adversity was a falling out with her father, Walter, who was also her coach. The emotional consequences put the Frenchwoman in a funk and the strategic consequences hurt her game and left her in need of a coach and hitting partner.
“I believe that what does not kill you makes you stronger, and I just was able to come back stronger,” said Bartoli, who was the runner-up to Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2007.
“Now I’m just so happy again and so smiley,” added Bartoli, who went through two coaches before finding a good coaching fit with 2006 Wimbledon winner Amelie Mauresmo.
“I’m having a great time off the court. I’m having an awesome time on the court. Everything is perfect again.”
For Sabine Lisicki, the No. 23 seed who was born in Germany but now lives in Bradenton, Fla., adversity took the form of a lack of funding at the start of her career. Her parents would drive her to tournaments around Europe hoping that would help her develop her talents and save travel costs.
“My parents did everything possible to let me play tennis. That’s what I appreciated so much,” she said. “My dad has worked from 8 in the morning til 9 in the evening to make it possible so I can play tennis.
“We had to cancel tournaments because we couldn’t afford to go there. You know, we’ve been driving by car. It’s been a big, big challenge. So to get to this point means a lot to us.”
Lisicki had a tougher path to the final here than Bartoli did.
Lisicki had to face highly regarded Francesca Schiavone of Italy and Elena Vesinina of Russia in the opening rounds and followed that with a third-round matchup against 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur.
Lisicki went on to upset No. 1 Serena Williams in three sets before eliminating unranked Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in straight sets in the quarterfinals and No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the semifinals.
In part because of all the upsets that threw the women’s field into chaos, Bartoli didn’t have to face a seeded player until her quarterfinal match against No. 17 Sloane Stephens of the U.S., a 6-4, 7-5 decision for Bartoli. She routed No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium in their semifinal.
Lisicki has a 3-1 career edge over Bartoli in their head-to-head matchups. Bartoli said their styles are similar in that they both hit the ball hard and “pretty flat,” and gave the serving edge to Lisicki—who has been nicknamed “Boom Boom” for her hard serve.
Lisicki said Bartoli’s aggressive style is a strength, but nothing that Lisicki hasn’t faced before.
“I had a lot of challenges on my way to the finals with players being aggressive, players who were very solid, moving very well, so it will be another challenge,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it. . . .
“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a great journey. It hasn’t finished yet.”
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