Indian Wells Notebook: Happy Days
Published March 08, 2014 12:12
INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - To set the scene. You're an international sports star. A Grand Slam champion. A millionaire (probably). You're used to winning. But you haven't won a match for almost five months, across five continents and nine tournaments. How would you celebrate?
The winning face question was one the WTA had posed to the top eight during WTA Live All Access Hour, in fact. There were plenty of beaming smiles, a few fistpumps, even the occasional throw-your-head-back with a knee bend type.
But none of them could compare to what Francesca Schiavone produced at Indian Wells after her first round win. The former French Open champion was the victim of the above scenario, without a victory to her name since beating Karolina Pliskova in Linz, Austria, in October last year. Her winless travels had then taken her to Luxembourg, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Paris, Doha, Rio, and Florianopolis. So you could understand that she might have had a little pent-up emotion.
Beating Mona Barthel in three sets, the celebration was slow to start, at first. She threw her hands in the air and yelled delightedly towards her team (pictured above). Then sat down and performed several exuberant fist pumps from her chair.
But then the fun really started. Walking to the middle of the court for her post-match interview with Stadium host Andy Taylor, she knocked the clipboard from the bewildered man's hand, grabbed his hands, and proceeded to jump up and down, celebrating as if she'd won the title.
"It was hilarious," Taylor said. "She was out of her mind. It was undoubtedly the highlight of the day."
Telling the crowd that she knew it was ridiculous to be that excited for a first round win, she could hardly contain her happiness.
"It was fantastic," Schiavone said. "When you win a match, it was a long time that I didn't catch it. Today, it was great for me.
"Now enjoy, happy days. I say to myself, 'Oh, I can do it, so, it's wonderful."
It proved an inspiration to Schiavone's compatriot, Roberta Vinci. The Italian was also without a win to her name in 2014, but was helped by a beleaguered Madison Keys in her first round. And she went the exuberant celebration route too, although it was more of a victory march than a jump around.
All in all, these two Italians reminded us how much winning can mean. And that's nice to see.
Alexandra Willis (@alex_willis) is a London-based tennis writer and editor, and manages the digital, social media and publications for Wimbledon, while also contributing to a variety of other outlets.