POSTED: Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 9:01am
UPDATED: Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 10:02am
SPORTS NEWS (CNN) — Marion Bartoli has retired from tennis with immediate effect, just six weeks after winning her first grand slam title at Wimbledon.
The Frenchwoman, who beat Germany's Sabine Lisicki to be crowned champion at the All England Club, broke down in tears as she told reporters her body could no longer handle the strain of competing at the top level.
The announcement came following the world No. 7's 3-6 6-4 6-1 defeat to Romania's Simona Halep in the second round of the Western and Southern Open.
"This was actually the last match of my career. Sorry," the 28-year-old said during an emotional press conference in Cincinnati. "My body just can't do it anymore. I've already been through a lot of injuries since the beginning of the year. I've been on the tour for so long, and I really pushed through and left it all during Wimbledon. I really felt I gave all the energy I have left in my body. I made my dream a reality and it will stay with me forever, but now my body just can't cope with everything. I have pain everywhere after 45 minutes or an hour of play. I've been doing this for so long, and body-wise I just can't do it anymore."
Bartoli had not planned on calling time on her career prior to the match, but she knew once the contest had finished that it was time to hang up her racket.
"You never know before the match that it's going to be your last match," she explained, "but I just felt that way after the match. I felt I just couldn't do this anymore. After one set, my whole body was just in pain. It's been a tough decision to make. I didn't make this decision easily. I've been a tennis player for a long time, and I had the chance to make my biggest dream a reality. I felt I really, really pushed through the ultimate limits to make it happen. But now I just can't do it anymore."
Bartoli turned pro in 2000 and, after battling for 13 years to win one of tennis' four grand slams, she now feels the time has earned the right to focus on other areas of her life.
"As a tennis player you had to be at 100%," she added. "I'm the kind of person, when I'm doing something, I'm doing it 100%. I have to be on the practice court preparing for the next tournament tomorrow. There are so many things to do in life rather than playing tennis, so I'm sure I'll find something. I just need a bit of time to settle down. 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."
Bartoli was taught tennis as a child by her father Walter, a doctor who coached her for most of her playing days until they split earlier this year and she began working with former world No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo.
"I called him, yes. But my dad knows me enough to know it a bit when he saw me leaving home for the States," Bartoli said. "He kind of felt I was tired and I was exhausted, and he was not surprised by the decision. He said, 'I kind of felt it somehow. I can see it in your eyes and see your body and I know all the work you've done to make it happen. I'm so proud of you. I will support you in anything you're doing.' "
Bartoli first came to prominence when she reached the 2007 Wimbledon final, losing to Venus Williams.
An unorthodox player with a distinctive serving style, she earned more than $11 million on the court -- $2.87 million of that this year -- with eight WTA Tour titles.
"I congratulate Marion on her long, successful career," said WTA Tour chief Stacey Allaster. "She is an inspirational champion and a great ambassador for women's tennis that has dedicated her life to the sport and given so much back to the game."
Courtney Nguyen, a tennis writer with SI.com, said the timing of Bartoli's decision has stunned everyone.
"It is quite shocking, even before this tournament she had been making plans to play in exhibitions in Australia in January, she had been talking about still being motivated and wanting to achieve more goals in tennis," Nguyen told CNN. "I think a lot of people are either second guessing her decision or just saying 'You know what, Marion Bartoli played her tennis career on her own terms, in her own way, this is exactly the way Marion Bartoli would go out.'"