The New Haven Open took a major hit on Thursday when it was announced that Marion Bartoli, the defending Wimbledon champion and the biggest name among this year's New Haven entries, has retired. Not “retired” as in pulled out of a tournament. “Retired” as in walk away from the game.
Finito. Kaput. Gonzo.
Bartoli has seemingly been battling nagging injuries her whole career—a situation heightened this year by three first-round losses on the WTA Tour, one second round loss, and a second-round walk-off against Andrea Petkovic in Miami in March. (Bartoli had received a first-round bye in that one.)
But then, her stunning win at Wimbledon seemed to quell suspicions that she was nearing the end of the line as an active player. After all, Bartoli, who will turn 29 in October, was a borderline senior citizen on the Tour.
However, after losing to Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in the second round at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati last week, Bartoli stunned the world by announcing she was walking away from the game she loves.
Not many people have the opportunity to retire on top. But Bartoli, always the renegade, retires from the game of tennis after admitting herself in the sport's pantheon after stopping Germany's Sabine Lisicki in straight sets at Wimbledon—and taking home the largest payday of her career (a cool $2 million).
Less than a week before she was slated to play in New Haven.
“The New Haven Open is very disappointed that Marion Bartoli will not be playing in this year's event following her retirement from the game of tennis,” said tournament director Anne Worcester. "She was one of our most consistent competitors over the years, playing here nine times, and I know our fans were looking forward to cheering for the newly crowned Wimbledon Champion. I congratulate Marion on her successful career, and have the utmost respect for her values, her wonderful personality, and her loyalty to the New Haven Open."
Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens and Julia Georges were awarded wildcard entries in New Haven. Stephens, ranked No. 17 in the world, reached the semis at the Australian Open in January—which garnered her a career-high ranking (No. 15). She defeated No. 1 Serena Williams in Australia, then reached the round of 16 at Roland Garros and quarterfinals at Wimbledon. Last week, the 20-year-old Floridian stopped four-time Grand Slam winner and current No. 3 Maria Sharapova in the second round in Cincinnati. The 20-year-old Floridian will be making her third straight appearance in the Elm City.
Goerges has two WTA singles wins in her belt—Stuttgart, in 2011, and Bad Gastein, in 2010. She played for her native Germany at the London Olympics last year, and reached a career-high ranking (No. 15) in March 2012. This will be the 24-year-old Georges's second stop in New Haven.
"Sloane and Julia are fantastic additions to our already spectacular player field," continued Worcester. "Sloane has the potential to be the next big American star and has had major results already by age 20. Julia will definitely be a fan-favorite in New Haven, too, as her aggressive style of play is sure to create fireworks on court."
Georges and Stephens join a field that includes four Top 10 players, including No. 5 Sara Errani, No. 8 Angelique Kerber, defending New Haven Open winner Petro Kvitova (No. 9), and four-time New Haven winner and crowd favorite Caroline Wozniacki, currently ranked No. 10 in the world. The main draw includes eight additional Top 25 players, including Sabine Lisicki, who lost to Bartoli in this year's Wimbledon final.
Qualifying rounds began on Friday and continue today, with the main draw starting on Sunday. Sunday's times will be announced later today, and can be accessed by clicking HERE.
This year, in an effort to create a more intimate atmosphere, the upper two tiers have been closed off, with only tickets in the lower bowl being sold. For more information, call 1-855-8366.