A first-ever Grand Slam final defeat in straight sets for Halep looked likely as soon as Stephens claimed the first game of the second set on her fourth break point.
"I wanted (the first Grand Slam title) to also be the same one".
Simona Halep's comeback to win her long-awaited first Grand Slam title at the French Open yesterday was one of the most popular victories in recent memory. "In the previous years and last time in Melbourne (in January), he told me that it's a big thing that I'm in the final and playing, just enjoy the match", Halep said.
She becomes the second Romanian woman to win a Grand Slam, joining Virginia Ruzici who triumphed at Roland Garros in 1978. It's a special moment.
"I couldn't breathe very well in the last game at 5-0".
She lost in three sets to Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open earlier this year, but joked that she was happy to have lost down under: "But the most important moment was when I won juniors".
The 26-year-old had suffered three agonising defeats when one set from glory at the majors, with last year's loss in Paris after leading Jelena Ostapenko by a set and 3-0 perhaps the most painful. She was favourite for this final but it was not simple.
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But the Romanian said that she managed to use those memories to her advantage, knowing that there was still a way back into the match in her third French Open final.
Of course, it could have all been different if Serena Williams didn't have to retire before her round of 16 match with Maria Sharapova, the American's first Grand Slam back since giving birth in September 2017. I'm really happy that it's happened in Roland-Garros in Paris.
"The fact that I could be No. 1 in the world past year gave me confidence", said Halep.
Halep produced not one, but two fantastic returns at the net to seal the game, eventually being the victor of the final set 6-1 to take home the trophy and 1.12 million euro prize money. "I was set and a break up and I lost the match".
"Congratulations to Simona. There is no-one else I'd rather lose to than the number one in the world", a gracious Stephens, who will rise to four in the rankings, said. Halep, who faced some flak for being the No.1 without a major title, said that her victory on Saturday balanced a lop-sided equation. Her patience finally paid off as she used all her experience to weather the Stephens storm.
"The fact that I was able to win maybe will give an inspiration also to Romanians, the kids, that it's possible, even if you come from a little country, it's possible if you work and if you believe".
But Halep wasted the chance with her 10th unforced error and Stephens made her pay, drilling an unreturnable backhand into the corner to wrap up the set after just 41 minutes. "So I was patient".