Welcome to French Open Flashbacks, where wtatennis.com will take a look back at some of the most memorable narratives from Roland Garros over the past 20 years. After recapping Charleston's classics, Stuttgart's standards, Madrid’s magic moments, and Rome's records, our retrospective heads to the culmination of the clay season in Paris - up next is Justine Henin starting a dynasty at a tournament she holds dear with her 2003 championship run.
For more classic moments, check out our other French Open Flashbacks:
1999: Stefanie Graf wins 22nd and final Grand Slam title
2001: Capriati confirms comeback with brave battle in record-setting final
2014: Halep serves notice in run to first final in Paris
2016: Mladenovic, Garcia delight home fans with fairytale triumph in Paris
THE MOMENT: When a 10-year-old Justine Henin and her mother Francoise attended the 1992 Roland Garros final between superstars Monica Seles and Steffi Graf, the budding tennis phenom was enthralled by the two champions battling tooth and nail for the title.
After Seles won her third straight Roland Garros title by outlasting Graf 10-8 in a classic third set, Henin told her mother that she, too, would one day achieve her goals on the center court in Paris. That vow became an anecdote told numerous times throughout the years, but, unfortunately, Henin's mother passed away in 1995.
Henin's tennis goals remained steadfast, and as her game improved, the Belgian began to excel on clay. In 1997, the diminutive Henin charged to the Roland Garros junior girls' singles title.
In 1999, Henin made her Grand Slam main draw debut at Roland Garros as a qualifier, and gave No.2 seed Lindsay Davenport quite a scare in the second round. The American needed to go to 7-5 in the third set before quelling the challenge from the youngster, who was still days away from turning 17.
From there, the Belgian with the eye-catching one-handed backhand rapidly rose to the elite level of the WTA. Henin made the Roland Garros semifinals and the Wimbledon final in 2001, and finished 2002 with her first-ever Top 5 year-end ranking. The stage was set for Henin to try to claim the title she had set her sights on in 1992.
To accomplish that goal in 2003, though, would require getting past a litany of legends. World No.1 Serena Williams was on an unstoppable tear at the majors, having just completed her first "Serena Slam" by winning the 2003 Australian Open for her fourth straight major title.
Venus Williams had been the vanquished runner-up in each of her sister's championship runs, and was ranked World No.3 and hungry to add more Grand Slam titles to her already hefty major title account.
Found between the American siblings in the WTA rankings was a player who had initially outpaced Henin for Belgian supremacy -- World No.2 Kim Clijsters, who had thwarted Henin's best previous bid for Roland Garros glory two years before.
The pair of compatriots had battled in the 2001 semifinals in Paris -- the first major semifinal for each -- where Henin led by a set and a break but let her advantage slip away, as Clijsters fought into her first Grand Slam final.
Henin reached her own maiden Grand Slam final in the very next major event, at 2001 Wimbledon, but it was not forgotten that she had fallen to her countrywoman in their prior Roland Garros meeting.
With luminaries like Lindsay Davenport, Amelie Mauresmo, former champion Jennifer Capriati, and three-time champion Monica Seles also in the mix, an imposing list of contenders stood in Henin's way. Still, the Belgian had already proved her mettle on clay that season, winning titles in Charleston and Berlin.
At 2003 Roland Garros, Henin moved into the semifinals with the loss of just one set. A quarterfinal win over No.8 seed Chanda Rubin queued up Henin's match against top seed Serena Williams and the American's dominant 33-match winning streak at Grand Slam events.
An intense semifinal battle followed, with Henin winning the opening set, but losing the second set to Williams and falling behind a break in the decider. "At that point, I was really beginning to doubt whether I could win,” Henin admitted.
Nevertheless, Henin eventually fought back to claim a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 victory over Williams and reach her first Roland Garros final. The Belgian was into the round which she watched with her mother 11 years prior.
Across the net in the final would be her countrywoman Clijsters, in the first-ever all-Belgian Grand Slam final. The victor would also become the first woman from their country to hoist a Grand Slam singles trophy. "It's going to be a special day on Saturday for everybody in Belgium, and for us, too," Henin said prior to the championship match.
If Henin had been anxious due to the circumstances, including familial history and national pride, she did not show it in the final. Henin blitzed through the first set 6-0, fending off all six break points she faced in the early stages of the opening frame. Henin polished off the one-set lead with a winning dropshot after just 28 minutes of play.
Clijsters put up a valiant effort in the second set, fighting back from a break down by taking Henin's service at love to tie up the set at 4-4. But Henin immediately reclaimed the break lead in the very next game, earning a 5-4 lead with a forehand winner and giving herself an opportunity to serve for the championship.
After a final Clijsters forehand on match point clipped the netcord and failed to go over, Henin had prevailed, 6-0, 6-4, in 67 minutes, and her journey to Roland Garros champion was complete.
THE MEANING: Henin's path up to the 2003 French Open and through the draw itself had been littered with obstacles, yet she had made it through. To highlight the moment which spurred her towards victory for over a decade, Henin dedicated the title to her mother, who had accompanied her to that momentous final in 1992.
The French Open victory unlocked a new level for Henin. The Belgian would win her second Grand Slam title of the season at the US Open, overcoming Jennifer Capriati in an epic semifinal encounter before once again dispatching Clijsters in the final.
"Maybe I arrived a little bit later from the other players, but, you know, winning two Grand Slams at [age] 21, I think it's great," Henin said, following her US Open triumph. "It gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of my career."
In fact, Henin would go on to be the dominant force at Roland Garros for a five-year period. After an atypical second-round loss during her title defense in 2004, the Belgian reclaimed her crown as the French Open queen by winning the title in each of the next three seasons.
Capping off her career with four Roland Garros singles titles, seven Grand Slam titles overall, 117 weeks as World No.1, and induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2016, Henin's vow to her mother was not only met, but exceeded beyond expectations.