Ciao Roberta: Vinci bids tennis a teary goodbye in Rome
By ANDREW DAMPF
ROME (AP) Roberta Vinci does not want to be remembered solely for beating Serena Williams in the 2015 U.S. Open semifinals, which prevented the American from completing a calendar-year Grand Slam.
Vinci, who retired after a first-round loss before her home fans at the Italian Open on Monday, was also ranked No. 1 in doubles, completed a career Grand Slam with partner Sara Errani, and helped Italy win four Fed Cups.
"It's not only Serena," Vinci said. "I would appreciate it if I were remembered for a bit more of my entire career."
Yet the 35-year-old Vinci acknowledged she still looks back at that match against Williams and wonders how she managed it.
"Ooh, a lot, a lot of times. A lot, a lot. Yes, yes," Vinci said with a laugh. "It was an incredible victory. The best victory of course of my life and probably also the (fans) can remember me with Serena, the crowd and everything. It was an incredible day."
During that match in New York, Vinci won the pro-Williams crowd over with her exuberance.
Then in an all-Italian U.S. Open final, Vinci lost to Flavia Pennetta.
Like after she lost to Pennetta, Vinci was smiling after losing to Serbian qualifier Aleksandra Krunic 2-6, 6-0, 6-3 at the Foro Italico.
"I tried to say, `OK, probably this is the last day, so try to enjoy it, and try to smile,'" Vinci said. "I was happy about the crowd, and my parents, my team and all my friends were there. I lost, I know, but I was happy - and this is what I wanted."
Vinci wiped away tears as a video of her career highlights was shown on the big screen inside the picturesque Pietrangeli court, which is surrounded by neo-classical statues.
"I'm crying now but I'm happy, I'm happy for what I've accomplished," Vinci told the crowd in an on-court ceremony. "I would have liked to do better but it doesn't matter that I lost."
Vinci embraced her support crew and parents and was presented with 21 roses - one for each year of her career - by Italian Tennis Federation president Angelo Binaghi. "It's not easy to talk right now," Vinci said. "I can only say, `Thank you.' These years were splendid."
Fans held up banners that read, "Grazie Roby."
"As of tomorrow, I'm on vacation," Vinci shouted, enunciating each syllable of the Italian word for "vacation" for more effect. "I couldn't go on anymore."
In Fed Cup, Vinci teamed with Pennetta, Francesca Schiavone and Sara Errani - each of whom also reached Grand Slam singles finals in a golden era for Italian women's tennis.
"We are a family," Vinci said. "I was honored to play with this group."
Krunic, who improved to 4-0 in her career against Vinci, embraced the Italian for a long while at the net then held up her hands in an apologetic manner to the crowd and said, "I'm sorry."
As usual, Vinci relied on her unique style featuring a one-handed backhand slice, looping groundstrokes, and tactical forays to the net.
"I had a difficult and different style of tennis. It's old style," she said. "But sometimes it's tough when you have to stay in good form, you have to run a lot, and you have to think about every single shot.
"But now, I can relax, and I don't think about the slice and drop shots and everything," Vinci added. "Next is ice cream, coffee, shopping - no rackets, no tennis."
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Updated May 14, 2018