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PARIS - With Wimbledon just weeks away, newly crowned French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, left, might want to try kissing Centre Court grass instead of clay.
Schiavone defeated Australian Samantha Stosur in Saturday's entertaining French Open final, 6-4, 7-6 (2), and celebrated by kissing the clay, a ritual she began in the quarterfinals.
"To kiss the ground for me is to thank this clay, this beautiful tournament and this arena," she said.
Schiavone won't have the element of surprise that she enjoyed in Paris. But the demonstrative Italian made a breakthrough last year at the All England Club, reaching the quarterfinals there for the first time, and she'll be eager to build on the momentum generated by her first Grand Slam title.
Playing in her 39th major and seeded 17th, Schiavone was a champion easy to applaud. She won praise by past and present champions.
"Congrats Schiavo!" Kim Clijsters tweeted. "Great to see one of the nicest, funniest, coolest, honest and hard-working girls win the trophy!"
Schiavone is the first Italian women's champion in the 126-year history of Grand Slam tennis.
At 29, Schiavone became the oldest woman to win her first Grand Slam title in 41 years. The second time Roland Garros has been won by a woman not seeded in the top 10.
She'll take a one-week break from the tour, then play Eastbourne as a grass-court warmup.
Can she become the first woman in eight years to win the French Open and Wimbledon back to back? "I'm curious now," she said. "More than you." - Sapa-AP