Simona Halep was desperately close to winning her first Grand Slam title on Saturday afternoon.
The top-ranked Romanian arrived at the Roland Garros final, where he stood across the net from the 2011 champion Maria Sharapova, who was known as the “Queen of Clay” for her resiliency and achievements on that particular surface. What should have been a nerve-racking experience for the first-time finalist turned into a thrilling encounter between two of the top competitors in the sport, and arguably the best women’s final at the French Open in over a decade.
Halep’s initial reaction was heartbreak, but she would soon come to the realization that she had achieved a fantastic feat, and deserved to be proud of that achievement.
“When I put the towel over my head for few minutes after the end of the match I was crying, only for a few minutes. Then I said, ‘I had to be happy’, it was my first final and I really gave everything I had in the final. I played at a very good level, so I just have to be proud of these past two weeks”
The Romanian reflected on his first Grand Slam final, and mentioned that it was an incredibly difficult task to perform at one’s best during such pressure-filled matches.
“Well, I tried to tell myself that it was just a normal final of a normal tournament. But I have to say it was very hard to play in my first Slam final. I think I had good tactics, I opened the angles well and I was hitting the ball strong. She had a good kick on her serve, which made it hard for me to return. She was moving very well on court. I have to say it was a good final. ”
Overall, Halep took many positives from her fortnight stay in Paris. She learnt that she belonged in the upper echelon of women’s tennis, and that she will be back to further her ambitions at the start of the grass court season.
“I learned that I can play at a very high level. Play Slam finals managing to stay calm and control the emotions. I thought I couldn’t play my best tennis at Grand Slam events and that was worrying me, but I did it here, and I am very proud of that”. What now? “Now I will rest, take some time away from tennis. I will buy something big with the check they gave me! I have time to decide what it is going to be, but for sure it will be something special”.