The biggest day of Kirsten Flipkens' life ended in a punishing defeat, 6-1 6-2, as French 15th seed Bartoli put paid to Belgian hopes.
Bartoli suspected that Flipkens' knee problem was a factor in the one-sided nature of the contest, but admitted she was seeing the tennis ball like a football after nodding off just an hour before they took to the court.
"I slept right before the semi-final. You can ask the physio in the locker room," she told the BBC. "I slept from 12pm to 12.30pm, right before going on, and you can see I was razor-sharp today.
"Maybe tonight [Thursday] it will be hard to sleep but I will be having fun tomorrow [Friday]."
Saturday's final awaits her, when the runner-up to Venus Williams in 2007 will have another shot at the title, against either Sabine Lisicki or Agnieszka Radwanska.
Bartoli, 28, sank to her knees on clinching victory in just an hour and two minutes.
Flipkens had a blood clot problem last year that caused her to take two months out of the game, and she fell down the rankings to the point she was ineligible for Wimbledon qualifying.
In this week last year she was winning a clay-court tournament in Middelburg, Holland. Her reward? Precisely 2,940 US dollars, or approximately £1,950.
On Thursday she was guaranteed £400,000 and would have doubled that by reaching the final. The champion pockets £1.6million - a sum that dwarves Flipkens' entire career earnings.
She has soared to 20th in the world and will climb even higher when the rankings are updated on Monday, but the greater big-match experience of Bartoli was to prove telling.
"I can't believe it. I played so well, felt so great," Bartoli said.
"Kirsten had an amazing run in here, I just want to congratulate her for a fantastic Wimbledon, I think she was a bit injured today [Thursday]. I wanted to say thanks at the end of the match, it must be hard being injured in the semi-finals of Wimbledon.
"Today [Thursday] I saw the ball like a football. I was playing so well, hitting it cleanly from the start. Everything was working so perfectly. To do that in the semi-final on Centre Court was so amazing."
Bartoli broke serve at the first opportunity, sparking cries of "Come on Flipper!" from her opponent's supporters.
The quarter-final win that Flipkens achieved against Petra Kvitova was history, with the 27-year-old needing to find her focus.
Yet Bartoli broke again in the sixth game and an easy hold, crowned with an ace, made the opening set safe.
Flipkens won the 2003 Wimbledon and US Open junior titles but has struggled until recently on the women's tour.
A glasses-wearer, Flipkens was attired in bug-like shades today, with a bright white headband and matching knee strapping accessorising her outfit.
She cut a distinctive figure, but the fairytale prospect of lifting the trophy on Saturday looked exactly that when Bartoli broke serve in the opening game of the second set, and held for a 2-0 lead.
The trainer had been on to see Flipkens between sets, seemingly due to the knee problem that required the strapping.
The crowd was willing her on, Wimbledon having been seduced by her tale of career resurrection. The clots in her calf could have killed Flipkens, she was told, had she boarded a flight to Japan for a Fed Cup match.
But it was all Bartoli. A stinging smash from the baseline brought up two more break points in the third game, and when Flipkens rattled a forehand into a net post the end of her championships was in sight.
The Wimbledon spectators did not know what to make of Bartoli. Her eccentricities are no secret, and she was repeatedly swishing at thin air between points, rather as though she was preparing for a sword fight.
A blip in the form of a break came when Bartoli appeared to let her focus drift, however it was instantly returned in kind and victory was soon snared.
Flipkens confirmed her knee problem had flared up, but she said: "I'm not going to use it as an excuse. Marion played an amazingly good match."
A fall in the first set had seemed inconsequential at the time, even to Flipkens.
"At that moment I didn't feel it but a couple of games later I started to feel a really sharp pain," she said. "It definitely needs a rest.
"All credit to her today [Thursday] for the way she played. I tried everything but it didn't work out."