RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - With the inaugural Rio Open about to get underway in Rio de Janeiro, 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone made an emotional journey to one of the wonders of the world Saturday, visiting Christ the Redeemer at the peak of Corcovado mountain overlooking the city.
Christ the Redeemer, constructed between 1922 and 1931, is 38 meters tall (with the pedestal) and 28 meters wide. It is a symbol of Brazilian Christianity and is among the "New Seven Wonders Of The World" with the Great Wall of China, Petra, Machu Picchu, Chichen Itza, Colosseum and Taj Mahal.
Schiavone, who has risen to the top of the world herself - she became the first Italian woman in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam title at the 2010 French Open and eventually made it up to No.4 in the world, the highest-ranked Italian woman ever - was definitely moved during Saturday's visit.
"I felt like I was at the top of the world - I could see everything from there," Schiavone said of the view from the top of the mountain. "The statue is so big. And spiritually, this is a very important place."
Schiavone is hoping to kick her season into high gear on the clay courts of Rio de Janeiro.
"I want to play as many matches as I can and find a good feeling on the court again," she said. "In the next two or three days I'm going to practice as much as I can to find my good technique and feel strong again, and my goal this week is to get some good matches. I want to play as much as I can."
And what does she think about the city as a whole? "It's a beautiful city," she said. "I want to discover much more. If I have some time this week I'll try to get to know the city a bit more, for sure."