Pierce's blithe spirit had deserted her during the final; she sprayed 51 unforced errors around the court. "I was so nervous," she said, I kept telling myself, When are you going to have another chance? I didn't want to let it slip away. I wasn't as calm as on the other days. I was too serious. I thought about it too much."
It would have been unfair to expect more from Pierce. She had never won so much as a quarterfinal match in a Grand Slam event before last week. The second-ranked Sánchez Vicario, who won the 1989 French title at age 17, was appearing in her fifth Grand Slam final. Sánchez Vicario was a dogged, steady opponent who countered Pierce's blistering pace with spinning bloopers.
Sánchez Vicario's victory ensured that Spain would sweep the singles titles. The men's finalists were Alberto Berasategui, an unseeded 20-year-old Basque from Bilbao with a contorted grip who uses the same face of the racket to hit both forehands and backhands, and 23-year-old Sergi Bruguera of Barcelona, the defending champion.
Top-ranked Pete Sampras's bid to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time was stopped cold in the quarters by Jim Courier, who beat him in four sets. Courier played his best match in 10 months—which is how long it had been since the two-time French champion and former No. 1 had won a tournament. Courier's victory over Sampras was only partly restorative, however, because Bruguera dispatched him in four sets.
The presence of three Spaniards among the four finalists was cause for celebration in Spain and drew King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia into the VIP section on Sunday. The men turned their match into a siesta, though, as Bruguera, with his relentless topspin, used the ball as a hypnotist's tool to beat Berasategui 6-3, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1.
For the French—and for all but the Spanish, truth be told—the men's final was anticlimactic. Even with the loss to Sánchez Vicario, Pierce's ascension to the heights of the game is welcome. The women's tour has suffered from a string of lurid misfortunes, including the stabbing of Soles by a deranged fan in Germany last year and, only three weeks ago, the arrest of Jennifer Capriati for possession of marijuana. Even Graf said of the discovery of a potential rival, "It's healthy and exciting, but it's difficult for me to say that."
The best thing about Pierce may be that she appeals to so many nationalities. Though she was born in Montreal, she grew up in Florida. She currently rents a condominium in Bradenton, Fla., at Bollettieri's tennis academy, where she is finishing high school via correspondence courses and looking to buy a house. In 1990, after the USTA had washed its hands of the Pierces because of Jim's misbehavior, the family moved to France and, by virtue of Yannick's citizenship, Mary was able to receive funding and coaching from the French Tennis Federation. Mary carries Canadian, U.S. and French passports. Sometimes she thinks in French, sometimes in English. "I don't see why I have to be either French or American," she said last week. "I feel like a little of both."
But judging by the warm roar as she lifted the runner-up plate over her head on Sunday, for the last two weeks in Paris she was thoroughly French.