PARIS (AP) - Francesca Schiavone threw uppercuts, put her fists
to her face and skipped about the court. And then, when she had won
the French Open, she really let her emotions show.
With the performance of a lifetime, Schiavone became the first
Italian woman to win a Grand Slam title by beating Samantha Stosur
6-4, 7-6 (2) in the final Saturday.
The tour veteran rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the second set,
then took the clinching tiebreaker with a succession of brilliant
shots that was topped only by her exuberance.
When she had won, she fell onto her back, then rolled over and
kissed the clay. She rose covered with dirt, hugged Stosur and
broke into a champion's grin, then trotted over to the wall behind
the baseline and climbed it for a group hug with her supporters.
"The passion came through," 18-time Grand Slam champion
Martina Navratilova said. "She wanted it. She wanted it badly. She
was going to die on that court if she had to."
Mary Pierce, the 2000 champion, presented Schiavone with the
Suzanne Lenglen Cup.
"You give me a great trophy," Schiavone told her. "I feel
At 29, Schiavone (pronounced Skee-ah-VOH-nay) became the oldest
woman to win her first Grand Slam title since Ann Jones at
Wimbledon in 1969 at age 30. She's the first Italian Grand Slam
champion since Adriano Panatta won the French Open men's title in
Schiavone was seeded 17th. The only other time the title has
been won by a woman not seeded in the top 10 was in 1933.
"Everybody has the chance to be who you really want to be, and
do everything in your life," Schiavone said. "This is what has
happened to me."
This was the best women's final in nearly a decade at Roland
Garros, and the quality of play climaxed in the tiebreaker.
Schiavone reached match point by hitting four successive winners,
the last a lunging backhand volley, and she exulted after every
"I was feeling much more energy, more and more and more," she
said. "I couldn't stop it. I really felt that was my moment, and I
took it. I didn't lose the chance."
On match point, Schiavone hit a backhand into the corner with so
much spin it deflected off Stosur's racket, and the real
Both players were first-time Grand Slam finalists, but there
were few signs of jitters. Schiavone certainly looked relaxed -
during one changeover break she laughed as her fans chanted.
"They both played very good, aggressive, creative tennis,"
Navratilova said. "It's nice to see two creative players make it
to the finals and then play a good final."
The No. 5-seeded Stosur beat four-time champion Justine Henin,
top-ranked Serena Williams and former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic en
route to the final.
"I'm disappointed," the Australian said, her voice breaking.
"It's a big journey and a great two weeks. You want the full fairy
tale, but it didn't quite happen."
Stosur's forehand lacked the bite from earlier matches. Much of
that had to do with Schiavone, who played dogged defense and used
her stylish mix of spins to keep Stosur from overpowering her.
The clay was fast on a sunny, warm afternoon, and Stosur's
serves topped out at 123 mph. But Schiavone boldly launched her
body into them and did damage with her returns.
"Full credit to Francesca," said Stosur's coach, David Taylor.
"She had nothing to lose, and she played a great tactical match
and a great mental match."
The title came in Schiavone's 39th Grand Slam tournament. On
Monday, two weeks shy of her 30th birthday, she'll become the
oldest woman in 12 years to crack the top 10 for the first time.
She's expected to be ranked sixth.
Each player served well and whacked more than two dozen winners,
and both sets swung on a few points. Both held without facing a
break point until the ninth game, when Stosur fell behind love-40.
She saved two break points but then double-faulted for the first
time, slapping her thigh in anger after the mistake that cost her
Schiavone fell behind love-30 in the next game but rallied,
hitting four winners to help her hold and seal the set. Stosur
walked off the court screaming at herself.
Stosur saved two break points and held to go ahead 2-1 in the
second set, then broke for the first time en route to a 4-1 lead.
Schiavone lost only four points in the next three games and took
advantage of several Stosur errors to reach 4-all. Both players
then held to reach the tiebreaker.
"I don't think I played that bad," Stosur said. "She just had
her day. She went for it. It takes guts to do that. Well done to