Before Francesca Schiavone’s victory over Sam Stosur, the Williams sisters teamed up to take out Katarina Srebotnik and Kveta Peschke in the women’s doubles final, 6-2, 6-3. The win, highly worthy of their number one ranking for doubles, means Serena and Venus Williams also won four Grand Slam doubles titles in a row. Serena calls it the “Williams Slam.” Now, combined with their current rankings at number one and two in the world, that’s an astounding stat.
Their effort in doubles sends a clear message to the rest of the professional tennis players – play more doubles. There’s no reason to not play. While the excuse out their might be that doubles is too tiring, along with having a solid performance in singles, is moot. Although the sisters did not advance beyond the quarterfinals at the French Open this year, they’ve done better in other Slams. Therefore, no excuse should be made.
Hopefully, more top players will take the sisters’ lead and play doubles not only for personal benefit, but also to improve the status of doubles play overall. No reasons exists as to why fans and professionals consider doubles lesser than singles. It certainly isn’t any easier. Moreover, increasing awareness only helps the sport, increasing its popularity for future generations. The team work and shot-making necessary to win a doubles match is impressive, and it is quick and fun to watch.
So, let’s see some more players of the Williams’ caliber. It’d be nice for a Roger Federer or a Rafael Nadal on the men’s side to take up the doubles reigns and show their worth with a partner. It shouldn’t only be up to Serena and Venus.
Francesca Schiavone of Italy sliced, diced, and served her way through the French Open final, taking out the powerful Sam Stosur of Australia in two sets, 6-4, 7-6 (2). The historic win means Schiavone is the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam title in the Open Era. Moreover, her victory secures her a spot in the top ten of the WTA tour for the veteran’s first time in her twelve years of professional play. She is the highest ranked Italian woman to play the sport, joining compatriot Flavia Pennetta in the top ten. Schiavone turns thirty later this month.
The effort and poise that Schiavone showed in her win still astounds me. With little nervousness, Schiavone’s brilliant tactics and finesse shone through, symbolizing a saving grace in the woman’s game for feisty, tricky players at a time when, otherwise, the big-hitters and hard-servers seem to almost always take home the biggest titles. With all-court play reminiscent of Martina Hingis, Schiavone was unafraid to volley, exceptional ones at that. The Italian approached the net 15 times, taking 14 of those points in an impressive fashion. In other noteworthy statistics, she out-served Stosur, who is widely known for her kick serve, and even lauded for having the second best all-around after Serena Williams. Schiavone, however, used angles to her advantage, serving six aces in total to Stosur’s three.
And who would’ve thought that these two players, who met in the first round last year in which Stosur easily won, would find themselves in the final a year later?
Well, Schiavone rewrote history and the happiness evident on her face after Stosur’s mishit flew off the court shows the raw beauty of an athlete fighting so hard over years and years of practice and grinding away on the tour hoping for that big break. Well, congratulations, Francesca, you certainly showed your stuff.
Stosur, too, must be applauded. A very gracious runner-up, Stosur still has her shot to make it big, especially after her previous three wins against Justine Henin, Williams, and Jelena Jankovic – all former world number ones and champions in their own right (except maybe Jankovic, if we’re basing it solely on Grand Slam titles collected). Maybe the tank was running a little empty, or the pressure of being the favorite in the match got to her. Whatever the case, we’ll be seeing more from this Aussie within the coming months. Let’s say, Wimbledon, where the fast court suits her big game.
Although Schiavone’s game doesn’t quite fit the typical grass court game, look for this champion to hold her head up high and continue to show the belief in her game that took her to such historical heights.