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World Cup: Italy is taking its inspiration from Francesca Schiavone

June 9, 2010 |  7:39 am

Italy's Coach Marcello Lippi and the Azzurri arrived in South Africa on Wednesday, the defending world champions beaming at their newest source of inspiration.

Francesca Schiavone's victory in the French Open on Saturday made her the first Italian woman to win a Grand Slam event, and Lippi was overjoyed, finding the tennis captivating.

"I watched the final in my hotel room in Geneva," he said, "and I couldn't pull myself away from the TV from the first point until the triumph.

"She showed desire, passion, heart and class, and I was really enthused by it. And I also liked what she had to say afterward -- that she had limitless energy and that she exceeded even her own limits.

"From now on, she's going to be the image of our World Cup."

-- Grahame L. Jones, in Johannesburg, South Africa

Times wire services contributed to this report.