Fighting back tears, Virginie Razzano sought comfort on court Philippe Chatrier on Tuesday, eight days after her coach and fiance died of a brain tumour.
The Frenchwoman lost 6-3 6-1 to Australian Jarmila Gojdasova in the first round of the French Open, but showed courage and dignity and received a compassionate pat on the back from her opponent at the end of an emotional match.
"I grabbed all my courage. I don't have much. I'm very fragile. I feel lonely, and even though there are many people around me supporting me I still have the strength in me that keeps me standing up and moving on step by step," a watery-eyed Razzano told reporters in her post-match press conference.
Stephane Vidal died at the age of 32 last Monday after losing his battle against a long-term brain tumour.
"He had so much courage, so much strength, that I also had within myself, and the two of us, we tried to continue to build our life, to continue with our job," said Razzano.
Razzano was wearing a chain as she answered questions.
"It's a chain that I offered to Steph' for Valentine's Day in Antwerp a few years back," she explained. "It was like, me on him, he wore it unti his last breath."
"I'm convinced I have to wear it, now it's him on me. I can't play with it because it's too heavy but I find comfort in wearing it."
Razzano said she will continue to play tennis while grieving, although she is fully aware it will be painful.
"I hope I'm not going to lose too much, but I need to go through this mourning period, because I need it," she said.
"I know that I'm supposed to play Birmingham after Roland Garros. I worked on this schedule with Stephane all the way to Wimbledon, so I said I'll play Birmingham.
"I said then I would come back home to be with him, and he said, well, we'll see. So it shows he was already feeling that things might turn out differently. But he said, 'you have to play Roland Garros and Wimbledon.'"
Gojdasova, who also entered the court with a heavy heart after her marriage to Sam Groth ended recently, was full of admiration for Razzano.
"I just told her that I'm sorry for her loss, and what she did was pretty much incredible," said Gojdasova, who reached the fourth round here last year under her married name, said.
"She stood on the court and held her head up high and tried her best. It's only been a few days. You don't know how it's going to be.
"It's very sad news. Either way it was going to be a tough match for me to first try and concentrate on what I have to do; and second, I was on the other side of a person that was very hurt."