Sometimes history finds a way to repeat itself with the addition of an unforeseen quirk, to fashion the happiest of new chapters. So it was for Simona Halep in the final of Roland-Garros 2018.
One year ago on Court Philippe-Chatrier, she led Jelena Ostapenko by a set and a break, only for the Latvian to turn the match on its head and break her opponent’s heart.
Twelve months on, Halep found herself a set and a break down to Sloane Stephens, looking down the barrel of her fourth defeat in a Grand Slam final. She didn’t much like the view.
With the weight of global expectation on her shoulders, Halep forced her way back, past an opponent playing with the freedom of one who has already exceeded expectation by reaching the final. This time, the Romanian would not be defeated, pushing on through exhaustion all the way to victory. Halep won 3-6 6-4 6-1. The world No.1 is at last a Grand Slam champion.
"It was amazing and I felt your support," Halep told the crowd during an on-court interview.
"In the last game I felt I cannot breathe any more. So I just tried not to repeat the (outcome from) last year. So I did everything I could, it's amazing what is happening now. Honestly I cannot believe it. I was dreaming for this moment since I started to play tennis. I'm really happy that it's happened in Roland-Garros in Paris. My special city."