She’d been on the brink for years—she’d reached three Grand Slam finals before, rose to No. 2 for the first time in 2014 and got to No. 1 for the first time in 2017. But it was at the French Open this year where arguably the best player never to win a Grand Slam title finally made her dream come true.
Here’s everything Simona Halep achieved by winning the 2018 French Open:
She finally won her first major. Halep had barely lost her first three major finals, all of them tough three-setters, at the 2014 French Open (to Maria Sharapova), the 2017 French Open (to Jelena Ostapenko) and the 2018 Australian Open (to Caroline Wozniacki). The second one was particularly heartbreaking—Halep led Ostapenko 6-4, 3-0 with points for 6-4, 4-0, and also led 3-1 in the third set.
This one looked iffy, too—her opponent in the final, Sloane Stephens, built a 6-3, 2-0 lead—but Halep fought back to beat the reigning US Open champion, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.
“It’s an amazing moment,” Halep said. “I was dreaming about this since I started to play tennis. It’s my favorite Grand Slam. I always said that if I’m going to win one I want it to be here, and it’s real now.”
WATCH—Halep's short presser after winning the title at Roland Garros:
She took her name off the list of No. 1s without a major. Going into the final, Halep was one of four women who’d had the No.1 ranking on their resume but no major, but she’s now off that list.
“I’m really happy that I won this Grand Slam, because I’ve always said being No. 1 without a Grand Slam, you don’t have everything—it’s not 100%,” she said. “Now I have both, so I’m really happy.”
There are just three women left on the list now: Jelena Jankovic, Dinara Safina and Karolina Pliskova.
She became the second Romanian woman ever to win a major. Virginia Ruzici was the first to do it, winning hers exactly 40 years ago at the 1978 French Open. Only one Romanian man has ever won a major and that’s Ilie Nastase, who won two (the 1972 US Open and 1973 French Open).
She became just the sixth woman to win the junior and senior title at Roland Garros. Exactly a decade after she won the girls’ title there in 2008, Halep now has the women’s title in 2018. She’s just the sixth woman ever to have won both the junior and senior title on the terre battue—the first five to do it were Francoise Durr, Mima Jausovec, Hana Mandlikova, Jennifer Capriati and Justine Henin.
She hung onto No. 1. Halep played Garbine Muguruza in a semifinal match that would determine No. 1, no matter how they did in the final—but by beating Muguruza and winning the final, not only did Halep hold onto No. 1, she nearly quadrupled her points lead at the top spot. In Paris she led No. 2 Wozniacki by 335 points (7270 to 6935) and now she leads her by 1225 points (7970 to 6745).