Francesca Schiavone on the meaningful words in her life

From the print edition of l’Équipe June 24 2015 page 17, by Julien Giovanella

Francesca Schiavone, exuberant? On the court yes, but not in the players restaurant underneath Philippe Chatrier where she joins us for an interview. “We’ll speak quietly, there are people around,” says the player who will be thirty-five on 23 June, before she picks a lap of paper with a proper name, a number or a date randomly from an envelope. Five years ago in Paris she was the first Italian woman to win a Slam, and a year later she was a finalist. Now ranked 92 in the world and playing in her fifteenth Roland Garros. In a quiet voice.

15

This is my fifteenth Roland Garros (she’ll meet the Chinese Qiang Wang). I still remember the first in 2000. I lost in the first qualification round 7-5 in the third against a girl who was playing well at the time (actually 9-7 against the Polish Magdalena Grzybowska). I was young (not yet 20) and I wanted to start this nice fairy tail well … I knew I had to work and work some more, but I already felt at home. I didn’t ask myself  “will I succeed or not?” I just played, full stop. And I loved it. When I saw this stadium for the first time (in 1997 as a junior) I felt the history of tennis. I remember one day going right to the top of Philippe Chatrier. Steffi Graf and Monica Seles were playing (semis, 1999). I was entranced. I got out my Kodak (smiles). I still have photos of the match at home.

Fed Cup

It’s the only time you share your work and your passion with others. I was told from the start: “You’re important to us.” That gave me so much energy. … There was always joy, even when we lost. There was respect between us and that gave me an incredible strength to play above myself (she won the contest in 2006, 2009 and 2012 but hasn’t played since 2012).

Today

What makes me keep playing? I have a new challenge. For a moment, I wasn’t at peace with myself any more. I had some personal difficulties which I’m overcoming, and I want to rediscover myself at thirty-five (birthday on June 23). I want the serenity I had at sixteen, seventeen, eighteen. It’s introspection to rediscover my balance and pleasure.

June

June 5 2010, on Philippe Chatrier, what a huge win. I gave myself a gift. It feels good to think about it. What I remember best is the second set tie-break (6-4, 7-6[2]) against Samantha Stosur). I felt all this energy inside me, my spirit and my body were one. My game, my mind, my tactics, my technique were responding perfectly …

Gabi Urpi

Gabi Urpi? Why this lap? Because he works with the French Tennis Federation? (He coaches the French Fed Cup team) He was my coach I shared with Flavia Pennetta. He has a lot of experience, but he also has great humanity, two things not easily found on the tour. The collaboration was a very nice page in my live.

Future

I see a picture with a lot of squares to put my wishes in. One might find: stay in tennis or stay at home and play “the mother”. There are other options too. If this new life were to start tomorrow, I wouldn’t be ready. I’m preparing. But I know myself and I might say from one day to the next: “I’m stopping, I don’t want to play tennis any more.” I hope not to do it, to take the time to make the right choice. I’m not thinking about it right now, I live in the moment.

4 H 44

That was so long (match won against Svetlana Kuznetsova at the 2011 Australian Open 6-4, 1-6, 16-14, the longest women’s match in Slam history). I’ve watched it sometimes since. (The whole match? we ask) No, I’m not crazy. Only the tough parts. The first time was on the same day with the physios, and that’s when I realised how long it was. On the court I was so concentrated that I didn’t think of either the length of the match or becoming 4 in the world if I won (her best ranking, achieved after the tournament).  What I was experiencing was so much nicer than that … Leaving the court, my toes on each foot were bathed in blood. It took me 2½ hours to get them out. After 4 hours and 44 minutes of pleasure, I experienced hell! That I well remember (laughs)!

Lin Zhu

(During the first round of the latest Indian Wells in March, her opponent, the Chinese Lin Zhu, had the ball bounce on her side before going over the net. The umpire saw nothing, the player said nothing and took the point, which was the second set winner.) She saw that the ball bounced on her side. The umpire, no, which is unbelievable.  He asked her, “what happened?” And she answered, “I don’t remember.” There, we have a problem. That’s a lack of respect for the sport and for life. I told her, “this is sport.” And since that day the phrase goes with me. It’s a whole philosophy of life other sports people, especially in cycling, defend, and which I hope to take with me when my career is over. Go and talk to her? What’s the point? Some of the younger players in the new generation don’t have those values, as opposed to Roger (Federer) Rafa (Nadal) Serena or Venus (Williams). We, the champions, need to be examples. You give your life on the court, but the respect and love are there win or lose.

Translated by MAN

Francesca Schiavone to Gazza News: “Tennis is friendship, respect and truth”

Translation of this article http://www.gazzetta.it/Tennis/15-03-2015/tennis-schiavone-gazza-news-amo-verita-110115808659.shtml by “G.Des”.

In the Gazzetta’s news broadcast the Milan native speaks of the future: “At 35, I prefer to live in the present and a few months ahead rather than look further than that.”

Francesca Schiavone was the guest of honour for the 13:15 edition of Gazza News, the news telecast of Gazzetta TV. In the via Rizzoli studios the 2010 Roland Garros champion, the only Italian woman to ever have won a singles Slam, summed up her season. The Milan native, who went out at Indian Wells in the first round, spoke about the incredible episode during the match against Zhu, when the chair umpire didn’t see an obvious double hit [the ball hit Zhu’s racquet first, then bounced on her side of the net, then over the net – MAN] by the Chinese.

Respect and Friendship

“Angry? A bit. I love this sport and when things like this happen I suffer and feel badly. It was a delicate moment: we had set point, the crowd was applauding and the umpire was distracted. I argued, partly because it happened practically directly in front of his chair. I asked her to admit to what happened – nothing. We’re athletes but sport is also the truth and she wouldn’t admit to it. I learned from Serena [Williams] and from Roger [Federer] about competing. But at the same time there has to be on court respect and friendship. Look at Rafa and Roger on court: they fight but at the same time they respect each other.”

Honesty

And look at the tattoo she tweeted: “#ThisIsSport”. “I hope we old ones can educate the younger generation.”  Francesca then turned back to that marvellous 2010: “Ah, I enjoyed it so much. Paris gave me something I can’t explain. They are emotions that stay with you and that you can relive. I felt like the happiest person in the world on that day. I got to the final in 2011 but with more difficulty, but I’m satisfied just the same.”

Inter and I

The future? Small steps. The Rio Olympics? “I’ve made a pact with myself of loyalty and respect to my competitions. At 35, I prefer to live in the present and a few months ahead rather than look further than that. I want to get results that bring a smile to my lips, get better physically and technically every day – there’s always something to work on.” And don’t talk to her about sacrifice. “Tennis is a sacrifice? No, if anything it’s a commitment, otherwise do something else. I’m always looking for personal growth.”

And football? “I’m an Inter fan, you know. We’re struggling. But these are difficult years for Milano too. Inter and I will win together – success in the Champions League.”

Translated by Mark Nixon

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