Flamboyant Francesca flirting with one final fling

China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-31 07:08

PARIS - There were moments during what might - or might not, depending on the day and her mood - have been 2010 champion Francesca Schiavone's last French Open match that she got rather emotional on Court Philippe Chatrier.

"Definitely, when I played beautiful points, I looked around and saw the fans' enthusiasm. That certainly was bellissima and took me back," said the Italian, who also was the runner-up at Roland Garros in 2011. "But I was more focused on the present than the past."

Truth is, it's the future that she finds most difficult to define. Before the Australian Open in January, Schiavone announced she would retire this year.

However, when asked after a 6-2, 6-4 loss to defending champion Garbine Muguruza in the first round on Monday whether she could see herself competing in 2018, Schiavone replied: "Maybe. You never know."

"I have to see how I feel physically. You know, it's not easy to wake up and run again for six hours and push yourself. But we will see," added Schiavone, who turns 37 next month. "I think after the US Open, I will ask myself what I want to do."

What might appear to be procrastination is actually a perfect reflection of Schiavone's personality, whether conveyed via Italian or English: She does not see the world in black and white; she sees all sorts of colors - and shades, too.

Her media conferences can be quite entertaining.

Speaking about falling behind 3-0 against Muguruza, Schiavone said she thought to herself, "I feel, like, 15 years old."

Muguruza observed that Schiavone "loves it ... out there" on court, so a reporter wanted to know whether the Italian has always loved tennis as much as she seems to these days.

"No, I hate tennis sometimes. It's a big relation. It's a love that you have to love, and then you hate sometimes," she said, forming both hands into fists that she rapped against each other. "It's like when you marry someone."

It was suggested to Schiavone that perhaps she could extend her career by continuing to play on the red clay that's been her best surface, while taking time off during other parts of the season, something 18-time major champion Roger Federer is doing now.

Schiavone chuckled.

"Oh, how I wish I could think about things the way Roger does - make some calculations and decide, 'Play a little, then don't play.' He is a genius," she said.

"He takes six months off. He wins Indian Wells and Miami and then says, 'Ciao, everybody, I'll see you on the grass.' I don't think I could make that choice. But I will evaluate what I should do."

After having spoken in English, she was several minutes into a session in her native language when she joked, with a wink and a smile: "Aren't you tired of me? I'm tired of you."

Soon came a call from a moderator for one last question. A reporter who wondered what Schiavone hopes her legacy will be made a passing reference to her Grand Slam title.

"Seven years have gone by?" she began.

And then, crossing her arms and leaning back in her chair, Schiavone offered an answer: "The love and the passion that I feel for this sport. Discipline, and the work behind it, because it's not just about a match of one hour, 40 minutes - there is a ton of preparation. It's a difficult sport."

Associated Press

Flamboyant Francesca flirting with one final fling

Francesca Schiavone in action during her first-round loss to Garbine Muguruza on Monday. Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

(China Daily 05/31/2017 page24)

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