Daddy’s Little Girl – Marion Bartoli Prepares to go to “War” with the FFT
Marion Bartoli, currently ranked No. 7 in the world, promised to go to war today with the Fédération Française de Tennis (FFT) following her snub from the upcoming London Olympics, in an interview with Tennis Channel’s Matt Cronin.
Here is a link to Cronin interview: http://www.tennischannel.com/news/NewsDetails.aspx?newsid=10653
The FFT has a rule in which a player must make herself available for two Fed Cup ties in the two years prior to the Olympics games in order to be eligible for the Olympic team. In addition, the FFT also does not allow private coaches during Fed Cup weeks, and instead require the FFT’s own coaches to work with the players during that week.
Bartoli has steadfastly refused to play under those requirements. As Cronin correctly points out in his article, Bartoli is one of only two top-10 players who still travels with her father, who has been her coach for her entire career. (For the curious, the other player is Caroline Wozniacki, who at 21 is six years Bartoli’s junior). Bartoli refuses to play simply because her father cannot be present as her coach during the Fed Cup.
It would appear as though neither side is prepared to budge, so do not expect to see Bartoli play at the Olympics, which many players, on both the men’s and women’s side, hold in particularly high regard this summer since it will be played on the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon at SW17.
Both Bartoli and the FFT are being shockingly stubborn in this matter. Bartoli, who has a reported IQ of over 175, is notorious on tour for being obstinate. She could have easily made herself available for a few matches in the last two years without her father for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to win an Olympic medal at Wimbledon.
However, it is also astonishing that the FFT will not even consider changing its eligibility requirements for a player who is their only realistic hope of winning a medal. Bartoli is an excellent grass court player, having reached the Wimbledon final in 2007 and having won at Eastbourne last year.
Furthermore, Bartoli is the only French woman ranked inside the Top 50. Pauline Parmentier is next at No. 63. Only the top 60 or so players get automatic entry to the Olympic tournament, so it’s conceivable that France will have no representation on the woman’s side (unless they are granted a wildcard), which for a nation with as proud a tennis history as France would be an embarrassment.
Given that both parties have everything to lose and virtually nothing to gain from their intransigence, and given how easy it would be to come up with some sort of compromise could easily be reached, say if Bartoli committed to playing two Fed Cups ties in the following two years, it is baffling that an agreement can’t be reached. (Especially since historically the French are known for their collaborationist spirit – see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vichy_France)
In the end, it is sad that the inflexibility of both Bartoli and the FFT will deprived the Olympics games of a medal favourite.
… and that is the last word.