One of the most decorated WTA careers came to an end at the US Open on Wednesday, as Italy's Francesca Schiavone announced her retirement from tennis.
"I arrived [at] this decision to say goodbye to the tennis with my heart, because my head, when I arrived here, say, 'Please go to the court, fight, because I can beat many other players'. But my heart say that I am in peace like this, that I am very happy about my career, my life, and everything. So I wake up in the morning, and I feel good," she said.
"It was three, four months already that I'm thinking [about retirement]. After Roland-Garros, I was already in the direction. Then I spent some months to think about, to be sure, to feel good with myself... I think when you do something with your heart, everything is coming, the answers are coming, and now is much clear. I asked the US Open if they could give me this opportunity to say thanks and say goodbye."
Schiavone made history for herself and for her country when she won the French Open in 2010, becoming the first Italian to win a Grand Slam singles title.
However, at the place where her career officially ended on Wednesday, she was making history long before that.
In 2003, Schiavone reached her first career US Open quarterfinal, and wrote some event records in the process.
She played the "longest" match in tournament history — it lasted four days and around 78 hours — to defeat Japan's Ai Sugiyama in the Round of 16 that year. Due to weather delays, the players ended up taking the court a total of eight times over four days.
It began just after 11 a.m. on Labor Day and didn’t end until dusk, the following Thursday.
"I love the moment when I played fourth round here, and we tried to go on the court and finish this match for four days and we couldn't. I won against Sugiyama," she reflected.
Seven years later, she reached the last eight once more, before losing to Venus Williams.
In total, Schiavone played 22 seasons on tour after her professional debut, in 1996. She reached a career-high ranking of world No. 4, and was the first Italian woman to be ranked in the WTA Top 5.
She was joined as a Slam singles champion by compatriot Flavia Pennetta, who triumphed at the 2015 US Open in the first all-Italian Slam singles final.
As far as her next steps, Schiavone doesn't expect to be far away from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center — and tennis' other big stages — for too long.
"When I was 18 years old, I had two dreams. First one was to win Roland-Garros, and the second, I was to become top 10 in the world. I accomplish that. So I'm very, very happy and lucky that, as we say in Italia, 'It's done. This part is done,'" she said.
"After 20 years of career and life, I have new dreams. The heart I think need dreams every day of the life. My new dream is to come here with a player and to be in a Grand Slam as a coach. [It would] be fantastic emotion for me...to help some players to reach their goals.
"I'm already coaching from some months, and I can say that it's totally different, but there is a part that is a passion that I feel for the sport that bring me to the court and to share all that I know to some guys and girls that want to learn. Tonight, I will drink a good Champagne, for sure."