Walter Bartoli (left) gave up his career as a doctor to coach his daughter. (Tony Medina/Icon SMI)
Marion Bartoli ended her career-long coaching relationship with her father, Walter, and though the split was difficult she said she was finally ready for a change.
"I felt maybe at this stage of my career, when I have so much experience, I could maybe try a little bit more my way or differently,” she told reporters. “But I still love my dad. I still call him right after the match. …It’s a tough decision. I won’t say hard. I think tough. But, you know, at some point throughout my career I have been going through some tough decisions. That’s what helped me to be where I am right now…"
Bartoli spoke of the decision last weekend when she was in Limoges, France, where she was supposed to contest her first Fed Cup tie in nine years before illness struck. Bartoli's past absence from France's Fed Cup squad revolved around her father, whom the FFT banned from coaching her at Fed Cup ties in accordance to their policy of not allowing private coaches during national playing duties. That stalemate resulted in Bartoli's absence from the London Olympics due to the ITF's Olympic eligibility rules, which requires players make themselves available for Fed Cup or Davis Cup duties. The result was unfortunate considering the Olympics were held at Wimbledon, where Bartoli, France's No. 1 for the better part of the last five years, is a former semifinalist.
Her Fed Cup reconciliation was undoubtedly driven by the FFT's appointment of two-time Slam champion Amelie Mauresmo as Fed Cup captain. Since the appointment, their relationship seems to have grown closer, with Mauresmo in Bartoli's box cheering her at the 2012 U.S. Open. Bartoli made it clear she wants the 2006 Wimbledon champion as her permanent coach but said the ball is in Mauresmo's court.
"Much has been discussed together, there is no rupture or clash, it is just the culmination of a long reflection," she said. "It happened little by little, my father always wanted the best for me and he told me that it might be better if I try something else to get what I want: A Grand Slam title….I talk to him every day on the phone, there is no problem. We are always connected…For me the ideal would be to be with someone to help me win a Grand Slam and I think Amelie can. But it is up to her."
In the meantime, it looks like Bartoli isn't just going to sit idly and wait for Mauresmo to make up her mind. She was spotted working with 1998 Wimbledon champion Jana Novotna today in Doha.