Bartoli retires just 6 weeks after Wimbledon triumph
There's something to be said for knowing when to say when in sports.
Too many athletes leave broken and gasping, literally limping off on their last leg.
Marion Bartoli apparently wanted no part of that.
Just six weeks ago, the French tennis star was on top of the world, celebrating a championship at Wimbledon. It was the first Grand Slam title of her successful 13-year career.
She surprised reporters earlier this week by retiring after her loss in the second round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.
"This was actually the last match of my career. Sorry," the 28-year-old Bartoli said through tears.
Bartoli, ranked No. 7 in the world, says she had not planned to retire prior to her match, but that afterward, the time seemed right. Bartoli has fought through her fair share of pain and injuries over the years and decided to end her career with a major victory fresh in her mind, instead of a major injury.
As it is, the minor ones have taken their toll.
"My body just can't do it anymore. I've already been through a lot of injuries since the beginning of the year," Bartoli said. "I've been on the tour for so long, and I really pushed through and left it all during that 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."
Forever is a long time, just like retirement.
Bartoli's friends and contemporaries are hoping she didn't make an impulsive decision.
Then again, she can always "un-retire," as some athletes tend to do.
Just this week, a big name in tennis "un-retired." Kind of.
The re-emergence of former world No. 1 Martina Hingis certainly made a few headlines.
The "Swiss Miss" played in a WTA event for the first time in six years when she played doubles with Daniela Hantuchová at the Southern California Open.
This is the third time Hingis has made a comeback.
"It took (Hantuchova) a lot of courage to dig me out of the grave, but I'm really happy to have a partner like her," Hingis said. "I was nervous going into the match, but she was really solid out there and that gave me so much more confidence.
"After the first set, it was pure pleasure."
Hingis, who won five Grand Slam singles titles and nine Grand Slam doubles titles, first retired in 2003, came back in 2005 and then retired again in 2007. Injuries and even an investigation for drug use caused the interruptions in her career.
Now 32, Hingis is just happy to be playing tennis competitively again, and she seems intent not to bite off more than she can chew.
She says she is back for just doubles, and does not have a return to the singles circuit in her sights.
"Not singles, no," Hingis said. "It's a completely different world."
Another tennis star who once made a much-publicized comeback is Monica Seles.
She stayed off the tour for two years after being stabbed in the back by a deranged fan during a break in a match in 1993.
Seles, a Hall of Famer who won nine Grand Slam titles, also had her career interrupted by other injuries, most notably to her foot in 2003. From then on, Seles always seemed to be on-again and off-again as she tried to regain her health.
She officially retired in 2008.
Now, Seles is working again. But this time, as a writer.
She recently released her first novel, a fictional story about a tennis academy. It is called "Game On."
Too bad the Chicago Sky's 79-66 win over Seattle on Thursday wasn't on TV.
It started out a stinker, and the Sky, without leading scorer Elena Delle Donne (foot) fell behind by as many as 16 in the second half. But guard Epiphanny Prince ultimately put on a show worth watching.
Prince went crazy in the clutch and scored 12 of her 16 points in a fourth quarter in which the Sky outscored Seattle 32-6.
In the past, that kind of game (down late on the road) was an automatic loss for the Sky. But this team is giving its fans a reason to watch until the very end, and a reason to believe in the "bigger picture."
That Seattle win convinced me that this is the year the Sky finally breaks through and earns the first playoff berth in the franchise's eight-year history.
If the Sky can keep winning games with Delle Donne on the bench, a big upside is that she will be nice and rested for the playoffs.
Delle Donne has taken some lumps this season, having battled a concussion already. Now, she'll be out for two weeks with her left foot sprain, which she suffered during the first half of Tuesday's game in Los Angeles.
A break might be good for the rookie. And having her fresh for the stretch run could be just the edge the Sky needs not only to make the playoffs but to make a serious run.
Follow Patricia on Twitter: @babcockmcgraw