Welcome to Roland Garros Rewind, where wtatennis.com took a look back at some of the most memorable matches from the past two decades at the French Open. Rounding out our retrospective are eight fabulous finals, each of which had their own personal significance to the players involved and to the sport as a whole.
Roland Garros Round Reviews:
Serena, Sharapova and more first round classics
Davenport, Schiavone and more second round stunners
Ivanovic, Henin, Sharapova and more third round clashes
Svitolina, Safina and more French Open fourth round thrillers
Serena surges, Stosur stuns and more French Open quarterfinal clashes
Pierce powers on, Serena fights back and more French Open SF classics
1999:  Stefanie Graf def.  Martina Hingis, 4-6, 7-5, 6-2
After numerous surgeries over the past two seasons, Stefanie Graf had missed months of play through 1998 and 1999. The German superstar, though, fought her way back into the Top 10, eyeing another Wimbledon crown.
Her self-professed expectations at 1999 Roland Garros were less lofty, but Graf still charged to the final, defeating No.2 Lindsay Davenport and No.3 Monica Seles en route.
No.1 Martina Hingis, though, was primed to claim the one Grand Slam title which eluded her, and the reigning Australian Open champion had Graf’s number early in the final. The Swiss Miss led 6-4, 5-4 and served for the championship.
In front of a vocal crowd, though, Graf fended off Hingis’s chance, and the veteran powered through the final three games of the set to achieve parity. The match completely turned after that, as Hingis struggled while Graf soared. Graf cruised through the final set to attain a title even she did not expect.
There, a jubilant Graf earned the last of her 22 Grand Slam singles titles, spectacularly defeating the world’s Top 3 in the last three rounds. The German reached the Wimbledon final a month later, then stepped away from the sport for good that summer.
2001:  Jennifer Capriati def.  Kim Clijsters, 1-6, 6-4, 12-10
After a topsy-turvy career which was heavily followed by a mesmerized public, former teenage phenom Jennifer Capriati finally reached her fullest potential by winning her first Grand Slam title at the 2001 Australian Open.
With Capriati now in her mid-20s, she continued her tremendous comeback at the year’s next major, defeating Serena Williams and Martina Hingis successively to reach the Roland Garros final.
In the championship match, Capriati was the heavy favorite against a much less experienced 17-year-old in her first major final. However, Kim Clijsters did not show any nerves in the opening set, which she barnstormed through 6-1, continuing Clijsters’s own precocious rise into the elite.
Capriati steeled herself, winning the second set and charging ahead in the decider. Clijsters, though, quelled Capriati’s first two chances to serve out the match at 7-6 and 10-9. Capriati stayed focused and broke again for 11-10, then closed out the victory in the next game to claim the second leg of that season’s Grand Slam.
The 22 games in the 79-minute decider set a record for the most games played in a Roland Garros women's singles final set in the Open Era (since 1968).
2011:  Li Na def.  Francesca Schiavone, 6-4, 7-6(0)
As Li Na surged to the top of tennis, the world’s most populous country became enraptured with her -- and ready for her biggest breakthrough. “[China’s] never had a No.1 player, or a Grand Slam [singles] champion,” said the megastar with the dry wit. “No pressure.”
"It’s a great honor to be a Hall of Famer and join the names of the tennis legends.— Tennis Hall of Fame (@TennisHalloFame) July 21, 2019
So what should I say? Not bad. At least I’m standing here right now." -Li Na#TennisHallofFame pic.twitter.com/pnY6inlJdY
In 2011, the dam burst. After reaching her first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, Li made a shock run to the Roland Garros final. The Chinese star had yet to win a clay-court title at that point.
Francesca Schiavone awaited in the championship match; the Italian had not reached a final since her own stunning title 52 weeks prior, but the titleholder rediscovered her Parisian magic and held a 13-match winning streak at the tournament.
Nevertheless, Li kept up her hot streak, as aggressive play gave her the opening frame. Schiavone fought back from a break down in the second set, but Li stayed steady, pulling the pair into a tiebreak. Li dominated the breaker without the loss of a point, and victory was hers.
With a record 116 million television viewers in China watching, their heroine soared to the top of the game, becoming Asia’s first-ever Grand Slam singles champion.
2014:  Maria Sharapova def.  Simona Halep, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4
By 2014, the days of Maria Sharapova referring to her clay-court prowess as that of a “cow on ice” were long gone. The Russian had completed her career Grand Slam in Paris two years prior, and coming into 2014 Roland Garros, she had won Stuttgart and Madrid on the dirt, establishing herself as a title favorite.
Sharapova, though, got all she could handle when she returned to the final in Paris for the third straight year. Her opponent, Simona Halep, had broken into the Top 10 earlier that season, and the rising Romanian had already troubled her in the Madrid final.
For a grueling three hours, the duo battled through the first three-set final at the event since 2001. For every missile that Sharapova fired for a winner, Halep would doggedly retrieve and reply to another with interest. The Romanian scintillatingly won the final four points of the second-set tiebreak to level the match at one set all.
Finally, Sharapova’s vaunted mental resolve put her into the winner’s circle. At 4-4 in the decider, Sharapova reeled off eight straight points to collect her second Roland Garros title.
"This is the toughest Grand Slam final I've ever played," Sharapova admitted, after the well-earned marathon victory.
2015:  Serena Williams def.  Lucie Safarova 6–3, 6–7(2), 6–2
Serena Williams battled through more than her share of adversity en route to winning the 2015 French Open, a run which culminated in a thrilling victory over first-time Grand Slam singles finalist Lucie Safarova.
Stretched to three sets in five of her seven matches during the fortnight, Williams rallied from a set down to beat Anna-Lena Friedsam (second round), Victoria Azarenka (third round), Sloane Stephens (fourth round) and Timea Bacsinszky (semifinals) to set up a championship meeting against Safarova, the first Czech woman to reach the French Open final since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.
In the final match of a fortnight where the American battled an illness which left her in bed between matches, it was Safarova who also showed her resilience on championship Saturday by battling back from a 6-3, 4-1 deficit to force a decider.
In the winner-take-all finale, the Czech led 2-0 before Williams ultimately rallied for the victory to secure her 20th Grand Slam singles title.
With the win, Williams became the first woman to win the Australian Open and the French Open in the same year since Jennifer Capriati in 2001, and the first to win the US Open, Australian Open and French Open titles consecutively since Monica Seles did so across the 1991-92 seasons.
2016:  Garbiñe Muguruza def.  Serena Williams, 7-5, 6-4
Having already announced herself with a dominant victory over Serena Williams on the Parisian clay two years prior, Garbiñe Muguruza repeated the feat in 2016 en route to winning her first Grand Slam title.
After a 6-2, 6-2 victory over the American legend in the second round of the 2014 tournament, the pair shared a friendly moment at the net, and Muguruza revealed that Williams offered one last bit of parting wisdom when asked to recount what was said by the press.
"She said that if I continue playing like this, I can win the tournament."
As it turned out, Williams ultimately predicted the future.
Muguruza launched herself into tennis' elite and reached her first major final at Wimbledon in 2015, before returning to the showpiece match at a Grand Slam less than a year later in Paris. Facing Williams for the fifth time in Grand Slam play, which was also a rematch of that aforementioned final on the English lawns, the Spaniard was largely in command for much of a match in which she never faced a break deficit.
She became the first female Spanish player to win a major title since Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in 1998, and the second player of either gender born in the 1990s to win a major title after Petra Kvitova first did so at Wimbledon.
2017: Jelena Ostapenko def.  Simona Halep, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
Unseeded Jelena Ostapenko's stunning run to her maiden Slam - and first WTA tour-level - title in Paris was full of thrilling victories.
Needing three sets to win five of her seven matches to take the title, Ostapenko battled from behind as early as the first round, in which she came from a set down to see off American Louisa Chirico.
That fighting spirit carried the unseeded Latvian to a history-making fortnight, which culminated in a stunning victory over title favorite Simona Halep from a set and a break down.
Ostapenko, who famously celebrated her 20th birthday during the tournament, became the first Latvian ever to win a Grand Slam singles title, as well as the first unseeded Roland Garros champion since Margaret Scriven in 1933 and the youngest since Iva Majoli in 1997.
2018:  Simona Halep def.  Sloane Stephens, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1
After three prior appearances in Grand Slam finals saw her leave as the runner-up, the third time was the charm for Halep in Paris in 2018.
A year after suffering a heartbreaking defeat to Ostapenko in the women's championship, and mere months after coming up short in a similarly-hard fought Australian Open final against Caroline Wozniacki, Halep's maiden major victory was sealed in the face of adversity.
From her own set and a break deficit, Halep battled past an in-form Sloane Stephens to take victory, which made the Romanian the sixth woman to come full-circle at the French Open.
Halep joined an illustrious list of players to win both the girls' singles and women's singles titles in Paris, and the fourth woman to win a Grand Slam singles title after three or more runner-ups.