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Beyond the Baseline

Francesca Schiavone needs a hug while being steamrolled by Serena Williams

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_yqi4L4lsQ

NEW YORK -- It's never fun to receive a beat-down on one of the biggest tennis courts in the world, but it's even tougher when you're a former Grand Slam champion.

So you can't blame 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, who lost the first eight games of her first-round match at the U.S. Open against top-ranked Serena Williams on Monday night, for taking a timeout for some much-needed emotional support; she even received a hug and a pat on the back from a nearby ballboy. Schiavone eventually lost 6-0, 6-1 in an hour.

"I don't need a hug in that moment," the 54th-ranked player from Italy said after the match. "I need a game, points. I don't need the hug."

She added: "It was tough today. Really, really tough."

Williams said she wasn't trying to embarrass anyone.

"I was just out there trying to be focused," Williams said. "When you see you have to go against a former Grand Slam champion, meaning just [three] years ago -- it's not very easy to see your name on the draw like that, so you have to be very serious."

Add Schiavone to the pile of overmatched first-round opponents for Williams at the Slams this year. Here's how Serena's other first-round opponents have fared:

• Australian Open: d. Edina Gallovits-Hall, 6-0, 6-0.

• French Open: d. Anna Tatishvili, 6-0, 6-1.

• Wimbledon: d. Mandy Minella, 6-1, 6-3.

Schiavone didn't mince words when asked about her reaction to being drawn to face Williams.

"Oh, s***," she said, cracking up the interview room. "But it's normal. When you are there, you have the same. She has two legs, I have two legs. Two arms. We are the same. We are human. One has to win. She was much, much better today than me.

"What I think of Serena as a player? I think is not because she beat me now 6‑0, 6‑1. I always say I think she's [one of] the best athletes we ever had in the world. We are speaking about some of the best, like Steffi Graf, Billie Jean King, [Martina] Navratilova. We are speaking about [someone] that is really unique."

Next up for Williams is 77th-ranked Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
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