Frenchwoman plays with heavy heart
Honoring a love lost
PARIS -- Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano needed every ounce of bravery she could muster to take center court at the French Open on Tuesday.
Razzano, ranked 96th in the world, is in mourning for her fiancé and coach Stephane Vidal, who died at 32 years old on May 16. Vidal had been diagnosed with brain cancer nine years ago.
"It took me a lot of courage to get on the Philippe Charier court today," said Razzano, 28, who wore a black ribbon on her tennis shirt in memory of Vidal. "I had lots of emotions and sighs because it's difficult for me to be here today. It's painful. It's hard. If I did it, it's for Stephane. He wanted me to play. He wanted me to go on with my life."
Razzano lost the match. She didn't have enough fight to shake hands with Australian Jarmila Gajdosova, who moved into the second round with a 6-3, 6-1 win. But Razzano honored the memory of the man she loved.
"I'm losing two people [fiancé and coach] at the same time, and he was my [other] half," she said. "So the two of us, we were just one, and that was very powerful."
One of the first things Razzano did upon leaving the court was put on a necklace she had given Stephane. She wears it all the time now, except for when she's playing.
"I offered this necklace to Stephane a few years ago for Valentine's Day," she said. "He was wearing this necklace until his last breath. It was me with him, and now it's him with me."
Gajdosova, 24, commiserated with Razzano at the net after the emotional match.
"I just told her that I'm sorry for her loss, and what she did was pretty much incredible," Gajdosova said. "She stood on the court and held her head up high and tried her best."
Sharapova really sparkles
Maria Sharapova might not be having breakfast at Tiffany's, but she's playing matches with Tiffany jewelry dangling from her ears.
Sharapova, 24, has a deal with the renowned jeweler to wear its earrings during all four Grand Slams.
The design Sharapova selected for this French Open is a drop earring with rose-cut diamonds set in platinum. At this year's Australian Open she wore a pair of earrings that resembled leaves, designed by famed architect Frank Gehry.
After winning her opening match 6-3, 6-0 over Mirjana Lucic on Tuesday, Sharapova compared the earrings she wore in Australia to the pair she's donning here.
"Well, [the Paris earrings] are not as architectural, and these have a lot more diamonds in them," she said. "It's like, Gehry or diamonds?"
Sharapova admitted the Gehry selection came with a bonus. "The experience with Frank Gehry was one of the coolest of my careers," she said. "I think going into the studio and working with one of the most famous architects in the world on a pair of earrings that you're going to showcase in front of many people was great, special, and something I'll have for the rest of my career, or my life."
It's a good thing Sharapova has memories of the earrings, as they're not keepers.
Losing can be lucky
"Lucky loser" is an oxymoron that makes sense to tennis players.
American Ryan Harrison was one of those players Tuesday. Harrison, 19, was the sixth of six lucky losers at this year's French Open, a guy who lost in the last round of qualifying but still had a chance to make the main draw.
Harrison received the text message on Monday night that his main-draw opportunity had come through. Benjamin Becker had withdrawn from his first-round match with a left elbow injury, and Harrison was the substitute player.
"You lose in qualies so it's a chance you don't exactly deserve to have, but you still have a shot at it," said Harrison, frequently dubbed America's best hope for a future star. "I went out there and gave it my best effort."
Harrison hung tough with Robin Soderling, a French Open finalist the past two years, before losing 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5.
Many players in Harrison's position would have preferred an easier first-round match. But Harrison said he believes improvement comes by playing the best.
"I want to see the highest level as much as possible right now,'' Harrison said. "My career goal is I want to be winning Grand Slams and be No. 1 in the world. So I want to figure out what I have to do to win at the highest level."