Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki insisted yesterday that she will not turn off the waterworks despite locker room resentment over the German’s reputation as a drama queen.
The permanently smiling German, who tackles France’s Marion Bartoli in today’s championship match, has won an army of British fans with her emotional run to a maiden Grand Slam final.
But the 23-year-old is reportedly unpopular with many women players on the tour who feel she exaggerates her back story which includes five painful months on the sidelines after suffering a potentially career-ending ankle injury.
Some rivals are weary of Lisicki’s “having to learn to walk again” summary of her return to action. But Lisicki hit back yesterday.
“That’s just myself. I enjoy myself out there. Why shouldn’t I show it?” she said. “I’m an emotional person. It helps me stay relaxed and to enjoy the game and play my best tennis. I won’t change anything.”
Lisicki, the first German woman in a Grand Slam final since Steffi Graf in 1999 and bidding to become the first from her country to win Wimbledon since 1996 when Graf also triumphed, has her compatriots on her side.
Tips from Becker
Graf sent her a good-luck message before the semi-final, while three-time champion Boris Becker has also been passing on tips.
“I have just spoken to Boris. I asked him a couple of questions, how it was for him. He won the first final he was in so that’s pretty good,” she added.
If she wins today, she said she will dedicate the trophy to her mother and father, Richard and Elisabeth.
“My parents did everything possible so I could play tennis, that’s what I appreciate so much. My dad worked from eight in the morning until nine in the evening to make it all possible,” she explained. “We had to cancel tournaments because we couldn’t afford to go there. So to get to this point means a lot to us.”
Back from rock bottom
Meanwhile, for Lisicki’s opponent Bartoli, tonight’s match will see her complete a journey from rock bottom to the most prestigious match in women’s tennis.
The Frenchwoman’s flawless progression through the championships, where she has yet to lose a set, is remarkable for a number of reasons.
Before Wimbledon Bartoli had not made it past the third round of any tournament this year, and her long partnership with father Walter as her coach had come to an end. The professional relationship between Bartoli and her father, who gave up his career as a doctor to become her coach, has sometimes proved to be a difficult one.
Two years ago famously at Wimbledon, Bartoli ordered him to leave the Court 12 stands after becoming annoyed by his presence.
Shortly after their split in February, Bartoli admitted she found it hard coping on tour without her father. “There are tough days when I feel very lonely... I get back to my hotel room and I turn around and say ‘Dad’ and there is no one there anymore,” Bartoli told Tennis Journal.
Yesterday, without explaining the precise cause of her recent unhappiness, Bartoli admitted she had gone through a particularly rough patch.
“There is something off the court, it’s private, but it kind of affected me in my mood and my results because it was a tough thing to deal with,” Bartoli said. “I had some very low moments when I pretty much hit rock bottom. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
The sad times seem to be well and truly consigned to the past now.