Schiavone credits shock win to 'something special inside'

FRENCH Open champion Francesca Schiavone has joked she will have to buy a new house to host the party she plans to hold after becoming the first Italian woman to win a grand slam – an achievement she put down to having "something special inside".

• Schiavone claimed her first Grand Slam title in Paris on Saturday

Schiavone could certainly afford an upgrade after being handed a cheque for 927,000 for two weeks' work yesterday, a quarter of the amount it had taken her 12 years to accumulate previously.

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The 29-year-old earned every penny on Philippe Chatrier Court against Samantha Stosur in one of the best Roland Garros finals in recent memory. Despite her historic achievement, Schiavone is not expecting a ticker-tape parade when she arrives back in Milan but plans her own celebration with family and friends, many of whom drove 10 hours across Europe to watch her win. "I want to go home to mummy and daddy," she said. "This is my goal for the moment, because usually we have a good dinner or good lunch, 10 people.

"Now I think I have to buy a new house – bigger – for 50 people.

"For me it is an honour to be champion and to be a person that maybe someone can use as an example."

Indeed, Schiavone is the latest example in sport of someone being rewarded for never giving up on their dream. It took her 39 attempts to win a major – 39 attempts even to make a semi-final – and in doing so she became the second oldest first-time female grand slam champion.

But the 17th seed – who will rise to sixth in the world when the new rankings are announced tomorrow – almost never made it past the first round in Paris, dropping her opening set in the championship to Regina Kulikova. She said: "That match, I remember was really tough, but I played really good in the most important moment. "I said to my coach after three, four matches, 'I haven't played so well'.

"But when the really important moments come – like 4-4 or 5-4 – I played amazing."

Schiavone did not drop another set all tournament and when she came close to doing so on Saturday, she produced the tennis of her life to wrap up a 6-4, 7-6 (7/2) success. Schiavone lapped up her moment on Philippe Chatrier Court, posing for photographs for around 20 minutes.

Asked what she was thinking as she paraded the winner's trophy, she said: "I thought that you can arrive here just if you really work hard and if you really have something special inside. It can be passion, can be heart. I don't think you can do something without all of yourself."

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Schiavone was not letting the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen out of her sight after her victory, and was disappointed she would only be allowed to take home a miniature replica.

She joked she had not had much luck with the three trophies she had previously won, breaking the first and being given a plate – usually associated more with a runner-up – for the second. Stosur, who was also playing her maiden grand slam final, had only won two tournaments herself, and the 26-year-old believes she and Schiavone have proven a point at this year's tournament.

"If you've got that desire, anyone can do it," said the Australian, who was a heavy favourite yesterday after dispatching Justine Henin, Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic. I think it proves you don't have to be the teenage wonderkid superstar to win the tournament like this."

Despite the outcome, Stosur insisted she could take plenty of positives from her run at Roland Garros.

"I can only look at it as a great two weeks," said the seventh seed, who reached the semi-finals last year.

"To make my first final was fantastic, and to beat the players that I did to get to that point and everything, it's missing that one thing, and that's winning at the end. I'm proud of this moment, and I want to look at it as a really positive time in my career, my life, and I want to enjoy it as much as I can."