Marion Bartoli, the current Wimbledon winner and a former Eastbourne champion, will come face-to-face with the controversial presenter John Inverdale as the pair team up for TV at the 2014 French Open.
The French ace, who sensationally retired from the WTA Tour just 40 days after her maiden Grand Slam success with the 2013 triumph at SW19, was ridiculed by Brit Inverdale in the build-up to the 2013 Wimbledon final.
Indervale was a pundit on BBC Radio 5 Live last summer when he said that Bartoli was “never going to be a looker”. The BBC dealt with over 700 complaints and Inverdale apologised to Bartoli, who boasts an IQ of genius level at 175.
A BBC spokesman apologised for the “insensitive” remark and Inverdale backtracked by claiming that “Marion Bartoli is an incredible role model”.
Inverdale sparked controversy prior to the French star defeating German Sabine Lisicki on Centre Court, by saying: “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little ‘You’re never going to be a looker, you’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight’?”
Inverdale was in the firing line so attempted damaged limitation by stating: “The point I was trying to make, in a rather ham-fisted kind of way, is that the public perception of tennis players is that they’re all six feet tall Amazonian athletes.
“Marion bucks that trend, and she is a fantastic example to all young people that it’s attitude, and will and determination – together obviously with talent – that in the end gets you to the top.
“I’ve apologised to Marion by letter if any offence was caused, and I do hope that we can leave the matter there.”
Bartoli said at the 2013 Wimbledon Ball, stunningly dressed in a black ball gown: “I invite this journalist to come and see me this evening in ball gown and heels, and in my opinion he could change his mind.
“I am not blonde, yes. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely.”
Bartoli’s father Walter fumed at the time: “The relationship between Marion and me has always been unbelievable so I don’t know what this reporter is talking about, she’s my beautiful daughter.”
Inverdale explained: “I was feeling so ill that day, I had terrible hay fever and all I could think of was that I wanted to go home to bed.
“Your mind is going all over the place, we’re on air from 12 noon till 7pm with not a single word written and you’ve got to fill the time – I’m not making excuses here, just trying to explain.
“I was going to use the phrase ‘physical attributes’ and then I thought ‘No, don’t say that’ – and then I said something far worse.”
Bartoli will take a seat as a pundit for ITV’s coverage at Roland Garros, with Inverdale as the presenter.
Inverdale enthused: “I know that the team, with Marion as a fantastic addition providing real insight into both the tennis and Roland Garros as a venue, are all looking forward to it enormously.”