Francesca Schiavone needed points. She settled for a hug.
Finding herself on the wrong end of a dominant performance by Serena Williams in the opening round of the 2013 U.S. Open, the 33-year-old Italian surveyed the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium for a safe haven. With the No. 1 women's tennis player in the world across the net and the scoreboard already showing a seemingly insurmountable deficit, Schiavone found a friendly face on the baseline behind her.
Having dropped the first eight games of the match and facing another break point, Schiavone walked back toward a ballperson and opened her arms for an unexpected embrace. He obliged. The 2010 French Open champion leaned her head on the shoulder of her new supporter and he gently patted her on the back.
After the quick hug, it was back to work -- and being battered. The empathetic crowd in New York rewarded Schiavone with an ovation when she won her first game of the match at 6-0, 4-1. Williams would not drop another, cruising to a 6-0, 6-1 win.
"A hug? No, I don't need a hug in that moment," Schiavone told reporters after the loss, via BBC UK. "I need a game, points."
She never managed to get many points but her hug may end up being one of the more memorable moments of the tournament.