Schiavone rewrites history with sweat and self-belief

The slogan on the T-shirts worn by Francesca Schiavone's supporters at Roland Garros said it all: Schiavo Nothing Is Impossible. If ever there was a result to prove that hard work and self-belief can conquer all, it was the Italian's 6-4, 7-6 victory over Australia's Samantha Stosur in the French Open final here on Saturday.

In 15 years on the professional circuit Schiavone had won only three tournaments and never reached the world's top 10, but at the age of 29 years and 11 months the world No 17 – who will climb 11 places in today's updated rankings list – became the first Italian woman ever to win a Grand Slam title. She also became the lowest-ranked Roland Garros champion since Sue Barker, the world No 18 when she won in 1976, and the oldest first-time Grand Slam winner since Ann Jones took Wimbledon at the age of 30 in 1969.

"I think when you are 27, 28, 29 you can be much more conscious of what you are feeling," Schiavone said by way of explanation of her remarkable feat. "You can really live and feel what's going on. You know where your power is. It's like when you kiss someone for the first time when you're a kid. When you do it years later it feels much better."

Stosur, who had been the pre-match favourite but was undone by Schiavone's perfect blend of dogged defence and controlled aggression, agreed. "She's obviously fit and healthy, and it doesn't matter what the age," the world No 7 said. "If you've got that desire, anyone can do it. I think it proves you don't have to be the teenage wonderkid superstar to win a tournament like this."

Schiavone took a congratulatory phone call on the court from her country's president, Giorgio Napolitano, and yesterday dominated the sports pages of Italian newspapers ahead of both her own idol, the motorcyclist Valentino Rossi, who had broken a leg in practice, and the nation's footballers, who were playing their final warm-up match before the World Cup.

While clay is Schiavone's favourite surface, she believes she can build on this success at other Grand Slam events, including Wimbledon, where she reached the quarter-finals last year, having won only three matches in her five previous visits to the All England Club.

"You have to believe in yourself, to feel something inside," she said. "You keep dreaming. It's not like I dream of becoming Angelina Jolie. That's impossible. But I keep dreaming about goals that are within my reach, that I can achieve by working hard every day."

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future
Berlusconi's world of sleaze: The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM

Berlusconi's world of sleaze

The astonishing lifestyle once enjoyed by Italy's former PM
Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Disney plans galactic domination with endless Star Wars spin-offs

Films and theme parks are just the beginning. Disney believes its control of the now decades-old franchise can bring in merchandise and marketing millions for years to come
Could the golden age of the gaming arcade ever be revived in the era of the Xbox?

Could gaming arcades be revived?

The days when coin-ops were the only way to play the latest video games are gone. But a small band of enthusiasts are keeping the button-pushing dream alive
Edinburgh Fringe 2015: The 'tampon tax' has inspired a new wave of female comedians to reclaim period jokes

Heard the one about menstruation?

Yes, if you have been at the Fringe, where period pieces are taking centre stage