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Flushing Meadows will be abuzz for the next two weeks as the best tennis players in the world compete in the final Grand Slam of the year, the U.S. Open. But one former top 10 player, Marion Bartoli, will be on the sidelines. The 30-year-old French native retired from professional tennis due to injury shortly after winning Wimbledon in 2013. Now she's a budding entrepreneur, building a new life for herself after tennis.
Bartoli started to play tennis at the age of 5, but always had an interest in the arts and fashion and could be seen making sketches even before her tennis days. She even always wore some jewelry while playing, which had special meaning to her. "All the jewelry I wore helped me during those tough times to find the courage to keep going," she told CNBC.
This May she officially launched her own jewelry line, which includes necklaces, bracelets, rings and earrings. Some of the bracelets have the words "Courage", "Faith" and "Strength" inscribed. She said the jewelry, which is all made in France, "looks to give inspiration, strength and courage to women and young girls around the world who feel they need some support."
"After retiring from professional tennis, I wanted to have a transition that reminded me what I have done and I thought this was a perfect way to also give back to people who have been so important to me."
So far Bartoli's life as an entrepreneur is off to a good start, having outperformed her sales targets to date. Her jewelry has become a hit on the WTA Tour, with many players wearing it, including Serena Williams. Bartoli's jewelry line is currently in 35 stores in France, but also available online at www.marionbartolidesign.com.
When asked about the toughest challenge in starting a new business she said you really have to start very small and the work is relentless, but if you are truly passionate about something, the hard work pays off... kind of what it takes to be a professional tennis player.
Bartoli expanded on that, saying her tennis experiences taught her an invaluable lesson in humility and teamwork before she got into business. "You think in tennis the person who is playing is the only one doing the work but it isn't the case. There are so many people helping. Just the same in business, you need to build a team around you that you trust."
To stay up to date on business headlines Bartoli said she reads The Financial Times every day. In addition to her father and business advisers, she sometimes consults with Twitter Co-Founder Dick Costolo and Virgin Group Founder Richard Branson, both whom she considers to be friends.
Bartoli ruled out making a tennis comeback, but said she follows the game closely. In fact, she will be doing some broadcasting for the European television sports network, EuroSport, in both English and French during the U.S. Open. "Tennis will always be a part of me," she told CNBC.
Bartoli did not give her U.S.Open predictions, but said that Serena Williams could face a good challenge in her bid for tennis's first calendar-year Grand Slam in nearly three decades.
The U.S. Open begins Monday August 31st and goes through Sunday September 13th.