Marion Bartoli returns to Liverpool International Tennis Tournament

Former Wimbledon champion planning a comeback, starting in Liverpool

SHOCK 2013 Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli is returning to the Liverpool International tennis tournament in June, as a prelude to a Championship level tennis comeback.

The Frenchwoman sensationally retired from the sport just weeks after winning Wimbledon, but appeared in Liverpool the following summer.

A shoulder injury prevented her from playing, then she was hit by a mystery illness in 2016 which caused her to lose five stones in body weight.

Still only 33 she is planning a top level comeback, and Liverpool will play a significant part in her preparations during the 17th Liverpool International from June 21-24.

Tournament co-ordinator Anders Borg said: “Marion wants practice, lots of match practice, before announcing her official comeback, because she hasn’t set a date yet.

“But she is coming back, not just to Liverpool, but to top level tennis.

“She loved her time here in 2014 and she is really looking forward to returning.”

Bartoli will be joined at at Liverpool Cricket Club by the Skupski brothers, Ken and Neal, who have confirmed for the Saturday and Sunday of the four-day event.

Last season’s Wimbledon Doubles quarter-finalists, they also claimed their first ATP title this year and Borg added: “Forget those other brothers whose names escape me” (The Bryan brothers are the most successful doubles pairing of all-time) Ken and Neal are an outside bet for Wimbledon this summer!

“Ken played in our very first tournament in 2002 against Richard Krajicek, after he’d made the quarter-finals of junior Wimbledon the year before.

“And he has been on a very long journey since then.

“He has won his first doubles title with his brother and they are definitely worth backing for Wimbledon.”

Tournament ambassadors for 2018 include Big Brother winner Craig Phillips and two-times European Cup winning goalscorer Alan Kennedy.

The Reds legend’s football exploits are well known, his tennis credentials less so.

But Kennedy explained: “I play anywhere I can. I love the game. I have played for about 20, 25 years, honestly.

“Even when I was a professional footballer I played tennis because I think it is one of the games that I can never master and not many people can.

“My ‘tournaments’ are out in the far east when I go on holiday. I play tennis just about every day and that’s when I really get the bug.

“I want to keep fit and a lot of people can take up the sport in their 50s and 60s and that’s very important for your health at that age.

“I’m still trying to play and still trying to learn and I’ll be there in June.

“I went out to Australia recently and watched some of the Australian Open and when you see top class players close up, it’s fantastic.”

The International, with a new title sponsor in Williams BMW Liverpool, has generated more than £250,000 for local charities since its inception in 2002 and this year’s beneficiaries will include Leadership through Sport and the Royal Liverpool Hospital.

The backing from local businesses has been more crucial than ever.

Anders Borg, whose brainchild the International was, explained: “It’s been the most challenging year we’ve ever had. Finding a new title sponsor helped, but we really needed more support from the council.

“But we got there. “And it’s thanks to the noble businesses who joined the global names and helped us keep it going.

“I’d just like our council to appreciate that global appeal and help us promote the event.

“Tennis is a global game reaching out to everybody.”

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