Just over a year ago, Bartoli was lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish on Wimbledon’s hallowed Centre Court having achieved her lifelong dream by defeating Germany’s Sabine Lisicki in the women’s final.
The 29-year-old Frenchwoman retired a month later and won’t defend her title at Wimbledon, which gets underway on Monday.
But Bartoli’s fond memories of England’s grasscourts persuaded her to accept an invitation to play in the Liverpool Hope University International Tennis Tournament at Liverpool Cricket Club this week.
Her first opponent in the exhibition event was teenager Jodie Burrage and Bartoli was virtually unrecognisable from the player who did not drop a set at Wimbledon last year.
The disbelief on Burrage’s face was clear as she raced into a 4-0 lead.
Bartoli won the next four games but could not save the set, and trailing 7-5, 3-2 she pulled out with a right shoulder problem.
Burrage, 208th in the junior world rankings, earned the chance to play in the event by winning a junior tournament in Liverpool last year and she said: “I can’t believe it. It’s amazing even to be able to play against her. So to win, it’s unreal.
“I was really nervous, I was thinking, ‘Just get a couple of games, or even a game’. Then when I was out on the court, I couldn’t believe the scoreline and how I was playing. I played really well.
“When I won the first game, I thought it was lucky. When I went 4-0 up, I was like, ‘Oh my God, you could get a set’. I didn’t think I’d win. Then I think I lost my focus a bit but I still managed to get that and then go up in the second.
“Unfortunately she had to pull out, but still it was incredible.”
Bartoli is expected to compete in doubles on Friday, although it was unclear whether she would be able to complete her round-robin singles matches.