Former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone said on Friday she had defeated cancer, defiantly telling fans: “I’m still breathing”.
The 39-year-old, who became the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam title with victory at Roland Garros in 2010, revealed her diagnosis in a short video on her Instagram account.
“Hi everyone, upon 7-8 months of silence from social media and from the world, I wish to share with you what happened to me,” said Schiavone who appeared in the video with her dark hair closely cropped.
“A cancer had been diagnosed to me. I did chemotherapy, I fought a tough battle and now I am still breathing. I have won this fight. And now I am back in action.”
She did not elaborate on the type of cancer which had been diagnosed.
Schiavone retired from tennis after the 2018 US Open having won eight career titles and playing in three Fed Cup winning teams with Italy in 2006, 2009 and 2010.
Her greatest moment came when she defeated Australia’s Samantha Stosur in the 2010 Roland Garros final. She went on to claim her career best world ranking of four in January 2011.
Later that year, Schiavone came agonisingly close to defending her French Open title but was defeated by China’s Li Na in the Paris final.
“When I was 18 years old, I had two dreams,” Schiavone said on her retirement in New York in 2018.
“The first one was to win Roland Garros, and the second one was to become top 10 in the world. And I completed them, so I’m very, very happy, and lucky.”
Schiavone’s health battle drew instant praise.
“Your strength, your courage, your roar are always an inspiration,” tweeted Inter Milan, one of the Serie A football clubs based in her home city.