After three runner-up finishes, World No.1 Simona Halep finally tasted Grand Slam glory in Paris on Saturday, coming from a set and a break down to defeat Sloane Stephens.
WTA Staff
June 9, 2018

PARIS, France - In order to win her first Grand Slam title, Simona Halep had to reflect on one of her most painful defeats.

Trailing by a set and a break in her fourth career major final, the World No.1 won 12 of the last 15 games to claim Saturday's French Open final against American Sloane Stephens and raise the trophy, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. 

Read more: Halep lifts first Grand Slam trophy at Roland Garros

With the US Open champion leading 6-3, 2-0 and looking on course to win her second Grand Slam, Halep recalled memories of the last time she stepped on Court Philippe Chatrier in the championship - when she fell to Jelena Ostapenko in last year's final despite leading by a set and a break herself - and used that as fuel for a championship comback.

"I said, '[A win is] not going to happen again, but it's okay.' I have just to play," Halep told reporters after the match.

"And then when I started to win games, I said that last year happened to me - same thing, I was set and a break up and I lost the match.

"I said there is a chance to come back and win it. I believed in that, and my game was more relaxed. I could make more things on court, and that's why I could win."

Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens, French Open 2018 (Getty)

Having never played a third set against the American in seven previous meetings, the World No.1 needed to dig deep to finally realize her Grand Slam dreams in her third career appearance in the French Open final.

As it happened: Halep coronated in Paris, wins French Open title

"When I was 14, I decided to be a professional tennis player, I mean, to dedicate myself to this sport. Since then, I was dreaming for these moments. I was dreaming to win a Grand Slam," she said.

"[The trophy], it's heavy, it's beautiful - and always when I was seeing the pictures with it, I dreamed to have it, to touch it. Now it's a special moment and I'm really happy that it's 'mine.' 

Read more: ‘You deserve this moment’ - Messages of congratulations pour in for Halep

"I played many times against her. I knew that she's a very tough opponent. I was prepared actually for a three-hour match. I knew that it's going to be long rallies, long points, and I just wanted to not give up even if she was leading. I think that's the most important thing that I stay there focused, I believed, and I never gave up."
Simona Halep

The victory is sweeter for Halep, who won the junior girls' title 10 years ago at Roland Garros - finally bringing her career in the French capital full circle.

"When I won juniors, I said that if I will win a Grand Slam in professional tennis, I want it to be the same one. It's special, and I keep it forever in my heart, for sure. It's my favorite city, actually, romantic city," she said.

"The fact that I could be No. 1 in the world last year gave me confidence and gave me a little bit of relief, because I touched something, something big, something huge, and I just had in my mind to win a Grand Slam after that."