PostHeaderIcon I Understand, Marion!


Marion Bartoli Retires

Marion Bartoli Retires

Marion Bartoli shocked everyone in the tennis world tonight by announcing her immediate retirement from tennis after a 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 loss to Simona Halep of Romania. Actually, “shocked” is an understatement of epic proportions, because virtually no one saw hints of this coming.

Marion was asked if she’d discussed this with her father, Walter, before coming to Cincinnati, and she said “No”. But she also mentioned that he wasn’t surprised when she called after the match to tell him of her decision.

“I called him after the match and said, ‘You know what, dad, I think it’s my last one’.  And he said, I kind of felt it.  I kind of knew it somehow.  I can see it in your eyes and see your body and see and know all the work you have done to make it happen. I’m so proud of you.  I will support you in anything you’re doing.”

That may sound good coming from one’s father, but for many others it may still be hard to understand why she would leave the game after winning the biggest title of her career.

However, I’m not one of them. I may not understand what it’s like to win Wimbledon, or travel the world as a pro tennis player, but I completely understand what happens to an athlete at the end of their career when they decide it’s time to stop.

As I’ve mentioned in a few earlier pieces, I used to be a professional dancer. My career started in Chicago (1985) with a company called the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater, and ended in San Francisco (1998) with ODC/San Francisco.

I had a wonderful career.  But over time, the wear and tear on my body was undeniable. I needed constant physical therapy, and even had a cortisone injection in my foot to walk/balance without pain.

The breaking point came in Newark, NJ as I was getting ready for a 10AM performance. It was cold, I was tired, and the only way I could get my body ready for the performance was by spending 20 minutes in a hot shower.

As the water hit me in the face, five words came out of my mouth that changed everything. “I can’t do this anymore.” after the show, I told my best friend in the company that I was going to retire. A little later I called my parents and told them the same.  The decision seemed rash, but wasn’t. There was too much pain, too little fun, and nothing left to give. I just wanted to walk without hurting.

So yes, I get it Marion. Once the switch gets flicked mentally, that’s it. You’re done! No other explanation needed.

The beauty is that she’ll always have her Wimbledon title (in addition to her others), and great memories from a wonderful career. But now there can be more. “There is a lot of excitement as a woman.  There is a lot of excitement as a wife.  There is a lot of excitement as a mother.  There is a lot of excitement to come up.”

And perhaps the greatest short term goal of all, walking normally and without pain.

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