Lindsay Davenport, who lost to her in the semi-final, said, with a terrible tang of sour grapes: "She played like a man." Martina Hingis, who beat her in the final, called her "half a man". "I have always been very emotional and very attracted to emotional things." Perhaps Mauresmo is tennis's Edith Piaf. But now I have found my spot in French society and I'm happy about that. Into a comfortable middle-class family near Paris who had no alignment to tennis whatsoever. In the third set, Williams got back into the match for a 2-0 lead that progressed to 4-2.
Passion player rises above the prejudice By Sue Mott (Filed: 19/02/2005) Will this be the year? " she asked, testing the adequacy of her intelligent English. Probably my parents didn't appreciate it, even though they knew what my life was. Compare that hopelessly unprotected girl with the woman of 25 who drove to Antwerp on Monday in her smoke-grey Porsche with the serious intention of winning the Diamond Games Indoor Tournament and you see the distinct alteration. I understand that sometimes you want to dominate and fight, but I'm not sure that's the answer." Her mind ranges well beyond the usual confines of tennis courts and airport lounges. "We are, we are," she agreed, demonstrating a set of limiting blinkers before her eyes. It's scary sometimes." The French Federation Cup Team, of which she is one, discuss such things over dinner, typical sophisticates that they are. After a set and a half of play, Williams looked well on her way to picking up that golden racquet containing 1700 diamonds and worth $1 million dollars.
As the owners of one Mr T Henman, Not Quite There, Wimbledon SW19, this nation is fully equipped to ponder such questions in tennis circles. There was no scandal, no controversy, no cover-up, just a woman coming to terms with herself and a decent backhand. I couldn't understand how people could be so rude, but then I grew up, got some maturity. "I am emotional still, but I am trying to deal with it in a better way. After taking the first set, Williams was able to grab a break midway through the second for 5-3 and served for the title at 5-4.
And it turns out it applies elsewhere too: this all-too-human phenomenon of crumpling under the weight of home expectation. She is as French as baguettes, unlike Mary Pierce (latterly French, previously Canadian and partially American) who won at Roland Garros five years ago. Grand designs: Amelie Mauresmo wants to get on with her life and her tennis It was frightening at the beginning," she said. Maybe the players felt threatened by me, but that was six years ago now. I've done so many things, achieved so much since. Sometimes it's a problem, but sometimes also it is a great feeling, one of joy, happiness, adrenalin. But Mauresmo easily broke back to stay in the match, putting aside the inconsistencies, poor movement and easy mistakes that had rattled her game for most of the match.
Across the channel, for instance, where Amelie Mauresmo, the first Frenchwoman ever to become world No 1 (five weeks last year), is yet to match her country's aspirations with a Grand Slam title. Mauresmo is all Gaul, a statuesque figure, mocked and derided in her teens, who found the courage to acknowledge to the world that she was a lesbian and went on to practise the subtle arts of her tennis whatever the condemnation. I have really found myself as a woman, as a tennis player, in my head." The rudeness to which she alluded fell heedlessly from the lips of her fellow tennis players, amazed by the sight of the quietly spoken French 19-year-old, as she was then, reaching the final of the Australian Open with a set of fully grown shoulders and a highly muscular physique. Imagine if your whole life was just nothing." She drew a flat line across the air in front of her and looked disgusted at the mere thought of emulating Bjorn Borg's expressionism. Instead, the Frenchwoman raised her level to even the match at 5-5 and eventually forcing a third set.
She yearned to win an Olympic gold medal in Athens, but came away with the silver instead. At 5-3 maybe she started thinking about winning the title, while I tightened my game up a bit. "She got a better start in the third set, but from 4-2 down I played very aggressively.
She lives alongside the reputation for arch-vulnerability in a crisis. It was crucial for me to come to the net, saving those break points at 4-2; I needed to be as aggressive as possible." Williams saved four match points at 5-4 in the third in an effort to keep the match alive. A push me - pull you, Posh and Becks situation has no allure whatsoever. I give a lot to the media but I also have my private side." Then she has her outspoken side. Simplistically, you imagine that Mauresmo will have to rid herself of these kindness outbreaks if she is to threaten the East-West power bloc at the top of women's tennis, represented by Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. Mauresmo kept on fighting and after some unnecessary mistakes by Williams she undid an early break at 3-4. But you cannot change yourself like this." She clicked her fingers. "All the eyes on them," she said in horrified wonderment. She did not disguise her disapproval of the war in Iraq when she was touring, of all places, the US last year. In a sensational tenth game, Mauresmo had no less than 5 match balls. After 2 hours and 18 minutes Mauresmo celebrated her 16th WTA title and her first win in Antwerp. February 20, 2005 Amelie Mauresmo © Getty Images Mauresmo Wins First Title of Season at Antwerp ANTWERP, Belgium - In an amazing finish to the week at the Proximus Diamond Games, top seed Amelie Mauresmo was able to outlast No.3 seed Venus Williams for the title in Antwerp.I try to share things with people." In which case, the French are suffering the same theatrical campaigns in which the Brits excel. She has consulted a sports psychologist in an attempt to cure her nervous responses to pressure, but she is clearly not an apologist for herself. She left her parents at 11 to be schooled in tennis by the French Federation. "I had certain physical abilities and technical abilities. They were all pretty tall and athletic." As for her lifestyle, it marks her out as a woman imbued with courage and frankness. From there, Mauresmo broke back for 4-4, held serve for 5-4 and then broke Williams' serve once again - winning the final four games of the match to take the title.She has been No 1 in the world, true, but she has also lost, sometimes catastrophically in the cauldron of Roland Garros. "Venus played very well to be up a set and 5-3, but I wasn't playing my best," Mauresmo said.She reached the semi-final at Wimbledon last year, slicing and sweeping backhands at a discomforted Serena Williams, but not sufficiently armoured in self-belief to deliver the coup de grâce. I take a little more time to get my maturity than the Williams sisters or the Belgians. "I was making lots of mistakes and I wasn't as solid as what I should have been.