STANFORD — Marion Bartoli is quick to point out why she's the No.11 women's tennis player in the world.

"It's not from one day, it's from what I've done the last few months," the French star said from the 37th annual Bank of the West Classic at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium at Stanford on Monday. Bartoli, the No.2 seed, plays her first match Wednesday after a first-round bye.

Bartoli, fresh off a runner-up finish at Wimbledon earlier this month, has steadily improved over the past year.

After getting ousted in the second round at the Australian Open in January, Bartoli advanced to the fourth round of the French Open in May before being eliminated by Jelena Jankovic. But it's the confidence she gained from Wimbledon that has her going strong.

"I beat the No.1 seed and the No.3 seed," Bartoli said with a smile. "Of course that gives you confidence and at the same time it motivates you to do even better. When you play against the best, it makes you play your best."

Bartoli, who won her first three matches in straight sets at Wimbledon, posted a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory over No.3-seeded Jankovic in the fourth round and then defeated top-seeded Justine Henin 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the semifinals. But in the finals, Bartoli fell 6-4, 6-1 to Venus Williams.

"I'm used to this level (of play), I'm not afraid," a confident Bartoli said. "I love to play in the big matches. I wake up early and practice hard every day to make it to the finals of each tournament I'm in.


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Now Bartoli is focused on the next Grand Slam event, the U.S. Open, which begins Aug.27 in New York. Bartoli, 22, knows to be primed for the big events, you have to start thinking ahead. She opens the Bank of the West Classic on Wednesday against Lilia Osterloh. Osterloh downed Jill Craybas 6-2, 7-5 on Monday. In another Monday first-round match, Eleni Daniilidou of Greece beat former Stanford player and two-time NCAA singles champion Amber Liu 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

"You have to prepare yourself and work on what you need to work on," the soft-spoken Bartoli said.

Bartoli's rise has been steady since turning professional as a 15-year-old. Her first WTA singles title came in 2006, in Auckland, New Zealand. She moved up to a No.26 ranking and then posted WTA tiles in Tokyo and Quebec. And that brought her ranking to No.16.

While she's yet to claim a Grand Slam title, she's had solid showings this year with a 10-3 mark in majors. On the WTA Tour, Bartoli is 31-18 and getting that well-deserved recognition.

"I love to travel," said Bartoli, who resides in Switzerland. "Every day is something different. I love this event here."

It helps to earn some money while doing it. This year, Bartoli has earned $904,081 and has career earnings of $2,227,169. On the ITF circuit, she's claimed six titles, including the Dubai in 2005, which netted her $75,000.

Should she claim the Bank of the West crown, she'd bring in $88,265 of the $600,000 prize pool.

Top-seeded Anna Chakvetadze of Russia also had a first-round bye.

NOTES: The Bank of the West Classic is the longest running women's-only professional tennis tournament in the world and is the first stop of the U.S. Open Series. The 28-player singles draw and 16-team doubles tournament, a Tier II event, has been held at Taube Family Tennis Stadium on Stanford's campus since 1997.

Former champions include Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Andrea Jaeger, Monica Seles, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams and two-time champion — Kim Clijsters — who recently retired.

-The semifinals and championship will broadcast on ESPN2 on Saturday and Sunday.