Germany's Sabine Lisicki admits winning the Wimbledon final against Marion Bartoli on Saturday would be the perfect way to cap her remarkable recovery from a devastating injury that threatened to ruin her career.
When Lisicki walks onto Centre Court for her first Grand Slam final
this weekend it will be both the culmination of a childhood dream and also a fitting end to a tale of redemption that started three years ago.
The 23-year-old German's joyful celebration at the conclusion of Thursday's dramatic 6-4, 2-6, 9-7 win over Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska was a far cry from the dark days of 2010 when she was on crutches for months after sustaining a serious left ankle injury at Indian Wells.
Unable to walk and with her promising career in the balance, Lisicki was at a crossroad. But she refused to bow to suggestions that it might be better to leave tennis. And after five months of rehabilitation, she was finally able to return to action.
By the end of 2010 her ranking had slipped from 23 to 179 and in March 2011, she was down at 218. But later that year she reached the Wimbledon semi-finals as a wildcard and hasn't looked back since.
Beating French 15th seed Bartoli in a battle of two players both looking for their first Grand Slam title would be the icing on the cake. Victory this weekend would make Lisicki Germany's first champion at a major since Graf’s 1999 French Open win.
History favours Lisicki, who has won three of her four meetings with Bartoli. But Bartoli, famous for her bizarre on-court mannerisms, swept into her second Wimbledon final with a 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens.
"If you compare the speed of my shots, the way I'm moving, I'm just doing everything better than six years ago," she said.