SINGAPORE - It's Lucky 13 for Simona Halep, who looked relaxed and relieved to sit atop the sport as 2017's WTA Year-End World No.1, receiving the eponymous trophy presented by Dubai Duty Free on Sunday.
"It's an honor to be the 13th - actually, it's my lucky number - No.1 in the world at end of the year," Halep said during a presentation held at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. "So it's a beautiful feeling. Of course, all the work I have done this year now has paid off."
Halep first clinched the top spot during the China Open, where she went through the likes of Daria Kasatkina and Maria Sharapova before avenging her French Open defeat to Jelena Ostapenko to become the first Romanian to become World No.1.
"The best moment I can say was on court when I won against Ostapenko in Beijing," she said during the ensuing press conference. "But it's also more special to finish the year, as we can see that fewer players finished the year as No.1 in the world, so it's more special and I think more difficult to do that."
Halep also received the Tiffany T World No.1 ring, along with a Q&A with the media.
"I'm not getting engaged!" she joked as she posed with the ring. "I'm getting engaged with tennis."
It's been a match made in heaven for Halep in 2017, who enjoyed her best season yet despite a disastrous start that saw her largely out of the game through the first quarter.
Suffering from a knee injury from the first week, it took until the clay court season for World No.1 to shift into turbo and defend her Mutua Madrid Open title, ensuring she takes home a Premier Mandatory event for a third straight year.
"I think I had many ups and downs this year . But starting from Stuttgart I was consistent, in my opinion. It was a tough one. Every week I went back on court, working. Even if in US Open I lost in first round, I went back on court and I tried to improve in my game, which I did.
"I'm really happy that I could stay constant, which is the best thing, I think, for a player. And also that I'm fit. I have no problems now, no injuries. So I'm just trying to make the offseason better and to start the next year better."
There were a few near-misses for Halep on her way to the top of the WTA rankings - most notably the French Open final - but a strong hardcourt swing - and the help of a strong support system that includes coach Darren Cahill and manager Virginia Rucizi - helped put her just ahead of Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza and ace leader Karolina Pliskova, who each became No.1 earlier in the year.
"I cannot say that I stopped believing that I can reach No.1 this year, because I had many chances, but of course I was a little bit disappointed after those moments that I had during the year.
"Now it's a great feeling. Virginia told me that I haven't realized yet what I have done, but, you know, it's a happiness that I have inside and one of my dreams came true.
"So I have just to be happy, to smile, and enjoy life."
Next up for Halep is a well-earned trip home and a pre-booked vacation ("I'm not going to tell where"), and a new slate of goals for the upcoming 2018 season.
"I would like to think about next year after the holiday, first. But every tournament and every week, every day I can say is going to be a big challenge, starting now.
"I cannot be stressed about that. I just want to work harder to get better, because I need to do that, and we will see what is gonna happen.
"In my opinion, it's great what I have done until now, so I just want to make it like to be there more, for a longer time, and win a Grand Slam."