Friday 28 October 2016

'I am fighting hard to survive' - Marion Bartoli on 'horrendous' illness

Dominic Harris

Published 08/07/2016 | 10:43

Marion Bartoli
Marion Bartoli

Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has revealed she fears for her life after contracting a virus that forces her to eat organic food,

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avoid tap water and wear gloves to use her mobile phone.

The 31-year-old, who retired after winning the ladies' singles title in 2013, says she cannot have contact with any electrical items and that even a tissue on her face could cause a bad reaction.

The French star has even been reduced to washing with mineral water, and said: “It's not a life what I'm going through right now ... it's surviving methods.

“I'm praying (to) God every single day to go back to a normal life.”

Bartoli, who is due to be commentating on the women's singles final on Saturday, had been due to play in a ladies' invitational doubles exhibition match at the All England Club on Tuesday.

But Wimbledon organisers issued a statement saying she was being replaced on “medical” grounds.

There was speculation it could be linked to her dramatic weight loss since finishing her playing career three years ago.

Bartoli is said to have lost more than three stones in weight since retiring, and has spoken about her radically different diet, now free of gluten, sugar, salt and dairy, and that she only eats organic.

But speaking to ITV's This Morning she said she developed a virus after a hectic schedule which saw her commentate for Eurosport, rush to New York Fashion Week to present her design collection and then head to India.

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Describing on the programme the impact of her virus, she said: “It can be any contact with an electrical thing - I cannot type on my phone without gloves - I can't wear certain things on my skin, I have a very bad skin reaction, it could be a tissue on my face... it's absolutely horrendous.

“So my life right now is an absolute nightmare, what I'm going through I wouldn't wish it to absolutely nobody.

“I need to wash myself with mineral water, I can't even wash myself with tap water. I can't have any contact with tap water whatsoever, I can't be on my phone for more than five minutes as my heart starts to pump and my body refuses electric, I can't wear jewellery.”

Bartoli said she has been reduced to eating organic salad leaves with skinless cucumber because her body cannot process it, and that she cannot process protein as her heart rate rockets.

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She revealed the Richard Branson, whom she regards as a “second father”, has been trying to find a clinic to treat her, and said she “can't wait” to get medical help as soon as the tournament is over.

Bartoli said she wanted to explain her situation and speak out about suggestions of an eating disorder.

She said: “Maybe there are other people around the world suffering the same, and maybe we can all join and be supportive. If this clinic is able to treat me, then we'd be able to treat them.”

She added: “As a Wimbledon champion I'm trying to fight my hardest to survive.”

There was support for Bartoli from ladies' finalist Serena Williams, who said: “I was really proud to hear she did say something.

“She took it upon herself to acknowledge what she's been fighting through. I really admire anyone that is courageous like that.”

Press Association

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