New York, Sep 6 (IANS) Francesca Schiavone, who became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title when she captured the 2010 French Open, has announced her retirement from professional tennis.
“For me, it’s a very important moment of my life,” an emotional Schiavone said on Wednesday at a press conference at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York, where the 2018 US Open is being held, reports Efe.
“I arrived at this decision to say goodbye to tennis with my heart. Because my head, when I arrived here, said ‘Please go to the court, to fight.'”
“But my heart says that I’m in peace like this,” the 38-year-old former world No. 4 added. “I’m very happy about my career, my life and everything.”
The 38-year-old also reached the French Open final in 2011 and was a trailblazer among Italian female tennis players, several of whom — Sara Errani (2012 French Open runner-up), Flavia Pennetta (2015 US Open champion) and Roberta Vinci (2015 US Open runner-up) — also earned a place in tennis history.
Schiavone enjoyed a long and mostly injury-free career in which she did not miss a single Grand Slam event between the 2000 French Open and the 2018 French Open.
That was a span of 73 tournaments, although in three of those major events she failed to qualify for the main draw.
The Italian was undersized at 5-foot-5 (1.66 meters) but made up for her lack of power with her tremendous fighting spirit and strategic sense.
Schiavone also had a great deal of variety in her game, hitting both heavy topspin and slice with her elegant one-handed backhand and also displaying skill at the net (most notably in her victory over Australia’s Sam Stosur in the 2010 Roland Garros final).
Although she had hovered at around the 100 spot in the rankings in recent years, she did not compete at either Wimbledon or the US Open in 2018 and her ranking plunged outside the top 400.
Schiavone said her future plans likely include taking on a role as the coach of an elite player.