It was one of the most emotional moments in Wimbledon history. Six years after her only other Grand Slam final – a straight-sets defeat to Venus Williams, also at Wimbledon –28-year-old Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli served for the Championship. As the sun shone on Centre Court, the crowd held its collective breath.
Bartoli threw the ball high into the air, and smashed an ace down Sabine Lisicki’s left-hand side. Game, set and match, and the diminutive brunette sunk to her knees in jubilation.
With Bartoli announcing her retirement from professional tennis just 40 days later, due to injury, her Wimbledon triumph was a fitting finale.
However, appearing on today’s This Morning, the former champion revealed how she feared it was game, set and match for her after she was struck down by a devastating illness in 2016.
The virus entered her bloodstream during a trip to India, and she soon found herself shedding weight and hair, and almost losing her teeth.
“Once it was in my system, it was a point of no return,” she told Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby.
Looking shaken as she recalled the memory, the former tennis ace revealed that doctors had even told her she was “on the brink of dying”.
However, Bartoli explained that one of the most upsetting aspects of the illness was that, when pictures emerged of her looking painfully thin, some people speculated that she had an eating disorder such as anorexia.
“Knowing how much I love life, you would know that’s not possible for me,” she pointed out.
Having regained her weight, Bartoli is now fighting fit, and Schofield told her: “You’re looking fabulous.”
The 32-year-old revealed that the illness could “absolutely come back”, and said that she has to watch her diet closely.
She even requested that any food given to her during the TV interview be washed in mineral water.
But considering she came dangerously close to dying, Bartoli has every intention of enjoying life from now on.
“I’m commentating on Wimbledon and I love explaining my knowledge,” she beamed. “I love fashion, and I would love to get married, start a family and have some kids.”