sport

Bartoli set for Liverpool

Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli will play at the pre-Wimbledon exhibition tournament in Liverpool, it was announced on Wednesday.

The Frenchwoman is the first reigning Wimbledon winner to appear at the Liverpool Hope University International Tennis Tournament.

Bartoli became one of the most unexpected champions in Wimbledon's history when she beat Sabine Lisicki in the final last July to win her first grand slam title at the age of 28.

Even more surprisingly, Bartoli announced she was retiring from tennis little over a month later, citing the wear and tear of injuries.

Her appearance in Liverpool is bound to fuel speculation she may be considering a comeback.

Bartoli said: "I am extremely excited to be part of this year's impressive line-up at the Liverpool Hope University International Tennis Tournament.

"I am a big football fan so I am excited about visiting Liverpool for the first time and meeting some true Liverpudlians - hopefully I will have time to visit Anfield and Goodison.

"The event has a great reputation and I am excited to be a part of it this year and to be back playing on grass."

Bartoli has turned her hand to a variety of pursuits since retiring, including media work and entering the world of fashion.

The 29-year-old also returned to Wimbledon last October to play in the annual club championships, the first reigning champion ever to do so.

Greg Rusedski and Virginia Wade are the other headliners at the Liverpool tournament, which runs from June 19-22.

Tournament director Anders Borg said: "We have been fortunate to boast some fantastic players in the past, but this year's line-up is the best yet.

"It is the first time that a current Wimbledon champion has been involved with the tournament and we couldn't be happier to have been able to bring Marion to this year's event."

This year's tournament will be held at Liverpool Cricket Club, with tickets available at www.liverpooltennis.co.uk.