Let's not forget that in addition to her 2013 Wimbledon title, her 2007 Wimbledon runner-up plate, her $11 million in earnings and her presence in the last 44 straight major tournaments, Marion Bartoli retires with one lofty distinction.
She may rank No. 1 all-time in the history of TV interviews with athletes just as they exit fields or courts or pitches or courses.
Of course, that TV ritual has brought the world much dreariness. It might have larded us with enough clichés to lower the collective IQ of all humanity. It certainly has helped people sink farther into couches in an unspoken multi-national tradition of banality and torpor.
Yet while starring an unknown Bartoli, long before her jarring retirement on Wednesday night in Cincinnati seemed to fit with her unpredictability, a post-match interview of Friday, July 6, 2007, brought delight and jolt at once.
The second Wimbledon women's semifinal that day had been peculiar enough. It had happened in the long, summer, high-latitude hours between bright light and twilight, with a sparse Centre Court crowd hinting that some ticketholders might have fanned out onto the grounds for late-day libations.
(It's just a guess.)
The No. 1 player in the world, riding a French Open title and a 16-match win streak -- Justine Henin -- zipped to a 6-1, first-set win. She seemed maybe even relieved to be done with Serena Williams, whom she had beaten in a three-set quarterfinal. She had reached the 2006 Wimbledon final and won the first set there. She had beaten this opponent 6-1, 6-3, in the Wimbledon tune-up at Eastbourne. She would win the 2007 U.S. Open two months thence. Her 18th-seeded opponent in this motley Wimbledon semi, who had never advanced beyond any previous Grand Slam fourth round, looked set for a cameo brisk even among cameos.
That was until Bartoli found her two-handed precision from both sides, reversed the tide and won 1-6, 7-5, 6-1. Well.
Then this 22-year-old, born in Le Puy-en-Velay in the south of France, came off the court for what to so many BBC viewers would be her introduction. And with an eccentricity -- or authenticity -- that would grow appreciated in ensuing years, she quickly attributed her turnaround to the actor Pierce Brosnan, watching from the Royal Box. What? Whaaat? Did she really just say that?
There have been compelling post-match instant interviews in our days of TV-viewing lethargy, but maybe not one so out-of-the-blue as that, so you might have wondered if she were kidding.
She did not seem to be kidding.
Was she kidding?
Curiously, she did not seem to be kidding, and moments later, she came into the interview room and said earnestly: "Well, to tell you the truth, as I said on BBC a few minutes ago, I saw Pierce Brosnan in the crowd, which is one of my favorite actors. I love his movies. I said to myself, 'It's not possible to play so bad in front of him.' Because he watched me play and I play so bad it was unbelievable. So I try to feel a bit more the ball, play more smartly. I saw he was cheering for me, so I said, 'Oh, maybe it's good.' I kept going and I won."
Joe Montana had John Candy in Super Bowl XXIII in Miami, and in such a different way, Bartoli had Brosnan at Wimbledon. So a reporter mentioned the presence of Sir Cliff Richard, British pop singer, and wondered why Bartoli felt no distraction by other celebs.
Poor Sir Cliff and others had gone unnoticed: "I was focusing on Pierce Brosnan, because he is so beautiful. I was just watching him. He was the only one." And: "I can watch James Bond a hundred times in a row. It's not a problem for me."
I always found this both a whole bale of charm and one of the more overlooked sports stories, the strange notion that an athlete could gather focus from spotting a celebrity in the stands. Could it be true? Henin said gracefully, "She's working very, very hard, and I think finally after all the sacrifices she did, now she deserves this kind of result." Henin said also: "I knew how well she could play, but today it was like she could close her eyes and play unbelievable tennis."
And: "I still don't realize what did happen out there. I don't understand what did happen."
Upstairs, the father who had coached Bartoli from girlhood, in part by giving her candy for hitting targets with tennis balls, looked stunned. "I'm completely impressed by what my daughter did today," Dr. Walter Bartoli said. He credited a changing of the grip over the spotting of an actor, but his daughter went with the spotting of the actor.
All the surprise didn't get much time, because the final came the next day. Brosnan had a wedding to attend, but he felt charmed, so he sent flowers to Bartoli's locker. Might his presence have helped against the maturity, elan and 120-mph serves of a Wimbledon queen, Venus Williams? Of course not. Let's not get carried away, even with a wondrous bit of quirky magic.