It’s always a joy watching the sheer delight on Francesca Schiavone’s face and her ecstatic leaps into the air after winning a title. Tennis fans in Rio de Janeiro got to witness just that after the 2010 French Open champion won her first WTA title in three years.
On Sunday, the Italian came back from a set and a break down to outlast the 23-year-old American Shelby Rogers, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 for her seventh career title. This is her first title since triumphing at Marrakech, Morocco in April, 2013.
Schiavone, who will turn 36 in June, has now returned to the top 100 in this week’s WTA Rankings and is placed at 94th.
The Italian veteran, who was once as high as World No. 4, was staring at defeat after trailing her younger opponent for a good part of the match initially. But she managed to use her graceful single-handed backhand effectively and break back thrice to grab the second set and then cruised through the third set.
“Today is a happy day and I’m very emotional because Brazil is such a wonderful country. Your smile fulfilled my days here and I wish you the best for the Olympic Games,” an elated Schiavone read out to the crowd from a note she had prepared in the morning.
Credits Pennetta's US Open win for inspiring her
She also denied any retirement talk and credited her compatriot Flavia Pennetta’s massive win at the US Open last year for inspiring her to continue.
“When Flavia won the US Open I really realised that I wanted to keep playing tennis,” the 35-year-old said.
Big 8 days for Italian tennis
It thus caps off 8 memorable days for Italian tennis that saw three of their stalwarts winning titles on the WTA Tour. It began with Roberta Vinci who was crowned the St Petersburg champion on February 14 after which Sara Errani captured the Dubai title last Saturday. The successful period culminated with Italy’s first female singles Major winner Schiavone coming back to the winners’ circle after 3 years.