Bartoli thrilled to hit with idol Sampras

13 July 2012 04:16

Star-struck Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli confessed on Thursday that her brief warm-up with Pete Sampras a day earlier at the WTA's Stanford tournament had fulfilled a long-held dream.

Bartoli, the second seed and a 2007 Wimbledon finalist, got the chance to hit with Sampras, a 14-time Grand Slam winner, prior to his exhibition with Michael Chang.

Bartoli, 27, said that as a lifelong fan of the 41-year-old American who retired a decade ago with seven Wimbledon titles, she was nervous at the start.

"I had an extra pleasure and honour," said the world number 10. "But I was so stressed at the start, I could barely hold my racquet. I hope he enjoyed playing with me.

"I was so sad that he hurt himself later," she added of the calf injury that forced Sampras to cut the exhibition short.

Bartoli said she was "like a kid."

"I never used to dream of winning a Grand Slam, I'd dream of playing with him. I had posters of him all over my bedroom. I'm so, so, so happy."

While sounding more like a member of the tennis public than the WTA elite, Bartoli said that as a child she and her mother -- an Andre Agassi fan -- had to sit on opposite sides of the family couch when the American pair played at the height of their careers.

"When Pete lost, I could be depressed for a week. I will never forget playing with him. He's a great champion, someone who did not over-act on court," she said.

"He was the same person on and off court, he was kind of shy but he was a great champion.

"It's important to have an idol, someone to look up to," Bartoli added. "It was just incredible to hit with him, I had no idea that it would happen here, but that's life."