LONDON (AFP) - Former Wimbledon winner Marion Bartoli said Thursday she fears for her life after picking up a mystery virus which has caused dramatic weight loss.
The 2013 champion from France, who has shocked fans with her skeletal appearance, was barred from playing in an invitational event at Wimbledon this week after doctors expressed fears over her health.
Bartoli, 31, told a British daytime television show that the virus is so rare that medical experts have no name for it.
Insisting that she is not anorexic, Bartoli said she can only eat organic salad leaves and cucumbers without skins.
She added that she needs gloves when she uses her mobile phone as the virus has caused severe electro-sensitivity.
Bartoli also claims that she has to wash with mineral water rather than tap water.
"I fear for my life. I worry that one day my heart will stop," the 31-year-old told ITV's 'This Morning' programme.
"This is not life. I am just surviving." Bartoli said she probably picked up the virus when flying between Australia, New York and India in January and February this year.
She has since lost 20 kilos which has reduced her life to a "living nightmare".
Bartoli said that after visiting Miami and Dallas in February to promote her fashion line, her condition started to deteriorate.
"I felt worse and my body rejected more and more things," she said.
"I can't type on the phone without gloves and for no more than five minutes as my heart will start to pump faster.
"My life is a living nightmare. I don't wish this on anyone but it is gradually getting worse." Bartoli, who was around 60kg during her playing days, said she will start a course of treatment at a clinic on Monday.
"I want to go back to a normal life. I have been reduced to eating organic salad leaves and pre-washed cucumber with no skin.
"I cannot process protein. I just drink and drink and drink to get everything out." Bartoli said she respected the decision made by the Wimbledon doctors to withdraw her from the women's invitational doubles at the All England Club.
"I was looking forward to it. I am happy when I am on court. But the doctors told me that I couldn't play because of my health. I understand that and respect the decision."