"What is the highest form of technique? To have no technique."
She grunts, instead of squealing like her pubescent competition. She sweats rather than perspire. She has the Chaplinesque-bearing of her countryman, Roberto Benigni, especially when gesturing and dancing about the court.
I've never been a big fan, but I appreciated. Whenever she got some airtime, her fierce manner and warrior mentality burst through the screen.
But she was an also-ran, a second- or third-tier pro...so what?!
Those of us lucky enough to see the 2010 French Open Ladies Final found out. We were offered a rarity, a jewel, a gift.
In jazz, they call it "the sound of surprise," that thing that you've never seen or heard heard before and won't likely again.
In sport, it is the moment when an unlikely talent, someone "beneath the underdog" as Charles Mingus would say, is offered a chance, a puncher's chance...and they take it.
Its a moment beyond technique, beyond weaponry, beyond form or the foes one has vanquished - before YOU. Its "l'esprit pour le moment," the spirit of the moment and whether you can seize it before it sinks you.
Sam Stosur wore the mantle of "favorite" in the final...for the first time in three heavyweight clay court bouts.
Versus Henin, Williams, Jankovic, no tongues would have clucked if she had wilted against that murderer's row. And on those trying occasions, she rose and then some.
But against Schiavone, Sam was the critic's pick as well as her own, you could tell. She knew that trophy was hers to lose.
She was the player with the lifetime edge. She was the player on the hot streak. She was the buff, overpowering Goliath, pummeling Olive Oyl.
Her tiara, under the bright lights of what most considered an execution preceding a coronation, wobbled like an anvil. And it showed.
Stosur played fast and free de temps en temp, with the shackles of inward looking desire constrained her movement and her willingness to let her forehand fly high.
At 4-1 up in the second set...if only she had taken bigger, bolder cuts at the ball, rather than tepid ones...If only she could have "met triumph and disaster and treated those two impostors the same..."
Ah, Francesca! You on the other hand were a marvel. You understood the moment and how to meet it with your fear channeled into your fuel line, powering your snappy one-hand backhand returns and forehand sizzlers.
And that first serve! Where did that come from in one so slight of build?! It must have been those 29 years, those unspectacular, unsightly, anonymous years and what you learned from them.
To see you flying around the court, boldly ripping winners against your larger opponent, attacking the net fearlessly, stealing a victory that no "expert" believed you had a right to take.
You won, not with technique at all, but with heart, soul, and the audacity of a cat burglar in broad daylight. What a sight to behold.
"Everybody has the chance to be who you really want to be, and do everything in your life. This is what has happened to me."
Except you MADE it happen, sister, you made it happen. Ain't life beautiful?!