The love story between Francesca Schiavone and Roland-Garros began way before 2010. The Italian champion developed a passion for the Parisian Grand Slam at an early age, and has always thought the tournament to be in a league of its own. “I remember perfectly when I was little, I thought that Roland-Garros was the most important event of the year. At the time, not a lot of tennis was shown on Italian television. So, when it was on, I went crazy! Maybe it’s because I grew up playing on clay, maybe because I was always covered in clay dust when I was little!” she laughs.
RG Legends: Francesca Schiavone remembers her title win in 2010
Crowned champion 10 years ago after an almost-perfect run, Francesca Schiavone tells us about her Roland-Garros victory.
A tricky run
Though the Milan native had always wanted to dazzle at the Porte d’Auteuil and clinched several impressive victories on the red clay in Paris, she had never reached the semifinals before 2010. “I think you have to be truly ready if you’re going to win a Grand Slam. It will happen when it should happen, not before. You need to put in a lot of hard work, discipline, emotion. You have to know how to exceed your limits. In the end, it was a process that took several years. And I was only ready to do it at age 29,” she continues.
In order to become the first-ever Italian woman to win a Grand Slam, she had to make her way through a star-studded draw. After ousting Caroline Wozniacki (World No.3) in the quarters then Elena Dementieva (World No.5) in the semis, it was the favourite Samantha Stosur (World No.7) who awaited her in the final. The stakes and the pressure were immense for Schiavone. “On the Saturday morning, I didn’t want to play… It was really hard. I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.”
“I could feel that something amazing was happening”
But luckily, the future champion managed to overcome her stress and excess emotion once she stepped out on Philippe-Chatrier court. “I had a fantastic time during the match because I felt strong. The more adrenaline there was, the more confident I felt about what I was doing,” she explains. Even when her service game was broken and she started to falter in the second set, she managed to fight back and get on top of her game. “When I came back at 4-3, I could feel that something amazing was happening […] It was like a flood, I was unstoppable. I took advantage of that feeling to win the match and Roland-Garros,” she concludes.