Schiavone Wins Womens French Open Title

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

celebration began.

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

the game.

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


(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)