PARIS, France - Defending French Open champion Simona Halep is happy. The World No.3 returns to Paris, the city that yielded her first junior major title and first professional major title, with nothing but good memories and positive thoughts.
"It's great to be back, and I'm happy," Halep told reporters at Media Day ahead of Roland Garros. "I'm healthy, and everything is fine.
"I'm happy to be back here, and I'm trying to enjoy, because it's a beautiful tournament and very special for me."
But is the Romanian too happy these days?
"Probably," she said, laughing. "I am too happy to be in this position, I have to admit this. But it's nothing bad.
"I fought hard [to win Roland Garros], and I had many tough moments before lifting that trophy, but I'm still motivated because my career doesn't stay in a Grand Slam or ranking.
"I play tennis because I love playing tennis, and I'm here because I love the life of an athlete. I like to make friends. I like to spend the time with people, and now I see the things different. So I discover different life on tour.
"So I will try to do the things as a kid, enjoying the time. I wanted this badly, and I wanted so much that now having it, I just want to be happy and to smile.
"Yesterday when I had the chance to touch the trophy again, I wanted to take it home."
Halep comes into Paris without a title this season, but her form has been strong during the clay season, which included a dominant run to the final at the Madrid Open, where she was upended by Kiki Bertens. Halep has preached all season that she's been very happy with her form, but has missed the edge in certain pivotal moments.
"Mentally, I am pretty relaxed," Halep said. "I know it's a little bit of pressure there, because I'm a defending champion, but it's first time when it happens.
"Yeah, much better and much easier, because I have the title already. Doesn't matter anymore what is going to happen. Everything comes now comes as a bonus.
"So I just want to take the positive, and to be in this position I think is the best thing. So I won't complain about it. I just try to play every match here, and I try to get ready as much as possible until I have to start."
Halep opens her title defense against Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic. The two have played just once, with Halep coming through in three sets in Cincinnati last summer, winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.
"It's going to be different because it's clay court, so the things are changing," Halep said. "But still it's going to be a very tough match. She's powerful. She hits the ball strong.
"So I have to be ready. I have to focus on myself, as I always say. I always think on court if I am able to do my game, I think I have a good chance to win."