The Joyous Ecstasy of Francesca Schiavone


60610811PARIS — Her face lit up. Such joy, the moment overwhelming, a consuming ecstasy.

Isn’t this what our sport, any sport, is all about?

Never mind that earlier in the match Francesca Schiavone was cursing to herself. “Imagine the Schiavone road rage,” Matthew Cronin wondered. “Imagine how frightening that would be?”

With Schiavone, it’s hard not to notice a certain appealing Italian sensibility. “She’s so Italian,” noted Craig Gabriel. “That’s what makes her so charming.”

When Schiavone secured her imposing 6-2, 6-3 win over the struggling U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki, she was overwhelmed. After 11 years of travail, the tournament’s 17th seed was into her first ever Grand Slam semi.

Okay, it was “just” a quarterfinal win. But for the angular pride of Milan, famous for her Fed Cup heroics, it was nearly transcendent. She fell to the ground and kissed the fabled clay on Court Centrale.

Afterward, I had this dialogue with the charismatic 29-year- old:

INSIDE TENNIS:  Your moment of triumph was so special.  Your face was filled with joy…Can you try and talk about emotion, the role of emotion in your play, your feeling at that moment?

FRANCESCA SCHIAVONE:  Heart attack … I think in that moment you remember many things from when you are — when you were young.  Is special because is your space, is your time, is your opportunity.  I felt alone, but with all the love around me is — I don’t know. It’s like if I ask you, How did you feel when you married?  You say, It’s not easy to explain.  Is not enough?

IT:  More than enough.