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June 9, 2018
S. HALEP/S. Stephens
3-6, 6-4, 6-1
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Simona, early in the week we asked you if you keep smiling, can you keep winning, and today your smile lit up Roland Garros. So congratulations.
SIMONA HALEP: Thank you.
Q. Tell us, do you think smiling has helped you win Roland Garros this year? And just talk to us briefly about all the emotions you have experienced, what this means to you and your friends and your family, please.
SIMONA HALEP: Well, it's an amazing moment. Definitely without smiling, I couldn't do this. It's a special moment. I was dreaming for this moment since actually 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.
It's real now, so, yeah, my family was all the time supporting me since I started to play tennis, also all the coaches and all the people that I have worked during this 20 years. Thanks to them, because it's tough to keep working every day at the highest level.
All the friends, all the people that are really special for me in this life. Without them probably I couldn't, you know, come back after losing three finals of Grand Slam.
But now I want just to forget everything and just enjoying this moment because it's really special.
Q. I remember when you were always coming here and sad, sobbing.
SIMONA HALEP: All finished.
Q. Changed. Congratulations.
SIMONA HALEP: Thank you.
Q. How was possible that there was so many Romanians in the crowd? Who bought the tickets for them?
SIMONA HALEP: I didn't. They bought the tickets. In the past I did, but now, no (smiling).
Now they came, and it's really -- I really appreciate the effort that they do always. It's really nice to have so much energy.
But also the French people were supporting me, so I thank to everyone, and it was an amazing atmosphere.
Q. Could you take us through the match point and during and after, just that short period of time?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, yeah, I couldn't breathe very well in the last game at 5-0. And when I lost the game, I said, Okay, I have four more until she gets back. So I have just to take ball by ball, point by point, and taking it.
Because last year I was a little bit defensive when I was leading the match, and now I just change it in my mind. I said that I have to hit the balls. I have to move and not thinking about the last game. Just every ball, every point.
So I did it well, and I was very strong mentally to finish that.
Q. Taking it even further, back on court you said that when you were a set and a break down in the second set, you thought, it's gone, I'm just going to enjoy it. Did you really feel that?
SIMONA HALEP: I did, yes. I felt that and I said, It's not going to happen again, but it's okay. I have just to play.
And then when I started to win games, I said that last year happened to me, same thing, I was set and a break up and I lost the match. So I said there is a chance to come back and win it.
So I believed in that, and my game was more relaxed. I could make more things on court, and that's why I could win.
Q. Congratulations. You have had to come in and answer questions, press conference after press conference about was this ever going to happen.
SIMONA HALEP: Honestly, that's the toughest thing.
Q. So walking on to the court, how big was the question in your own mind?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, before the match, actually last night I slept very well, so I started well, everything. Last year I couldn't sleep.
I ate very well at the breakfast. I ate a little bit before the match. So I felt that everything, it's in line, like the days before. And I had just to calm down my mind and not thinking about the trophy that much. I knew that I have the chance.
I played many times against her. I knew that she's a very tough opponent. I was prepared actually for three hours' match. I knew that it's going to be, like, long rallies, long points, and I just wanted to not giving up even if she was leading.
So I think that's the most important thing that I stay there focused, I believed, and I never gave up.
Q. Congratulations. It was an incredible atmosphere on court today. The "Si-mon-a, Si-mon-a, Si-mon-a," what did that give you on court as you were going through the match?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, energy, for sure. Energy, for sure. And the positive vibes from all the crowd was amazing, and I took it just for me. I felt that everyone is for me, and I felt stronger on court.
Q. Congratulations for your win. What give you more satisfaction: To be No. 1 or to win Grand Slam?
SIMONA HALEP: Now both. I can say they are the same. Doesn't matter anymore. I'm really happy that I won this Grand Slam. Because being No. 1 without a Grand Slam, I always said, is not like everything, not 100%.
So now I'm really happy.
Q. Congratulations. Is it very important to have Virginia Ruzici by your side?
SIMONA HALEP: Here. She's right here in this room.
Yeah, it's a motivation and inspiration, also. 40 years ago she won here. It's a special moment. The fact that it's happened here, it's pretty special. So, yeah, she's an inspiration.
VIRGINIA RUZICI: Thank you.
Q. Can we talk about the point to break for 4-Love in the third set when you did the backhand smash after running down the dropshot?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, that was really important, and I think maybe the most important ball in the third set.
I remember last year -- I had last year and this year in my mind all match, when, at 3-3 I think in the third set, she hit the net and the ball was going, like, five meters out and came back to my court.
So I remember that. I said, if I did this point, so has to be mine this match. I was confident after that.
Q. Can you talk us through a little bit about what changed tactically for you also in the second set? Because up until 2-Love, it she felt like she didn't give you any errors or anything at all and you had to hit through. And after that, it felt like you were working with more height and depth in your shots.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, exactly this I did. At the beginning I started too strong. I started to hit the ball flat. I had nothing in those balls, and she was just playing very high. The ball was bouncing high. I couldn't make anything from there.
And then I said that I have to calm down, just to try to open the court, try to put more balls in. And at one point I felt that she started to feel a little bit tired and to miss more.
So I was patient. I was putting the ball higher and stopped missing.
So I think the best thing that I have done these two weeks is that I stopped missing during the match. That's why I won. Someone told me actually just run and not miss and you're going to win. So I did today (smiling).
Q. You're not the first player who's gotten to No. 1 before winning a Grand Slam, but you're the first player in that category to actually win a Grand Slam while you're still No. 1. So it's pretty impressive. How do you keep that criticism, or whatever people are talking about you being No. 1, from weighing you down? Because you seem to see No. 1 as a positive thing the entire time, which maybe is different from older players.
SIMONA HALEP: Well, for me it was really positive. And the fact that I could be No. 1 in the world last year gave me confidence and gave me, like, a little bit of relief, because I touched something, something big, something huge, and I just had in my mind to win a Grand Slam after that. So the ranking didn't matter anymore.
But the fact that I'm No. 1 now and winning a Grand Slam makes me very, very happy and makes me, like, thankful for everything that I have done, everything that I have received from the people, all the love, all the support. And also, the energy that my team, my friends are giving me every single tournament.
Q. How will you handle the sort of quick turnaround between clay and grass, especially after the emotion here?
SIMONA HALEP: Oh, don't ask me that because I'm going to have a big holiday now (smiling).
Grass is far.
Q. I just wondered, how do you think it will feel like playing at Wimbledon, knowing -- I'm just looking ahead -- knowing that you have finally done it, you're a Grand Slam champion and there won't be that question?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, nothing changes, obviously. I'm a Grand Slam champion, but tomorrow is a new day, so I have to start again.
The grass is coming. I have few tournaments ahead, but now I'm off. So I'm not going to talk about the next tournaments. I just want to enjoy this moment.
Q. Congratulations. Can you tell us what Darren may have told you yesterday or this morning before the final? And also, when you came off the court, what did he tell you?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, he told me previous years and last time in Melbourne, he told me that it's a big thing that I'm in the final and playing, just enjoying the match.
But this year he told me, You're going to take it. You're going to go on court and just thinking you have to take it, not waiting for the opponent to give it to you.
So he gave me confidence, and he put a little bit pressure on myself that I have to go there and win it. So maybe that's why I won it, and it worked.
Q. Congratulations. Could you share some thoughts about the beautiful trophy?
SIMONA HALEP: It's heavy (smiling).
Q. When you kiss it and touch it, how do you feel?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I kissed it many times to be sure that it's going to stay in my heart forever.
It's heavy, it's beautiful. And always when I was seeing the pictures with it, I dreamed to have it, to touch it, and now it's a special moment and I'm really happy that it's "mine."
Q. Congratulations. You said many, many times that you have dreamed of this moment.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah.
Q. Can you take us back into your childhood and when did you dream of this? What were your dreams?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, honestly when I was 14, I decided to be a professional tennis player, I mean, to dedicate myself to this sport. Since then, I was dreaming for these moments. I was dreaming to win a Grand Slam.
But the most important moment was when I won juniors. I said that if I will win a Grand Slam in professional tennis, I want it to be the same one. So I'm really happy that I didn't win Melbourne, actually, (smiling) and happened here.
It's special, and I keep it forever in my heart, for sure. It's my favorite city, actually, romantic city.
Q. Twitter kind of exploded after you won. It's one thing for fans to get excited...
SIMONA HALEP: Romanians?
Q. Romanians are going a little nuts, yes. In addition to Romanians, the players, a lot of your fellow players have taken to Twitter and congratulating you. And just curious if they have come up to you over the last 12 months and said, We see what you're trying to do and we support you. Because it seems like this meant something for them, as well, to see you break through.
SIMONA HALEP: Well, first I want to say thank you to Petra Kvitova, she wrote me a message. And also Irina Begu. I read and I replied. So they are very nice to me.
Petra sent me few messages after I lost last year here and Melbourne at the final. She said, It's gonna come. I just have to keep working.
It's nice to see the players are happy about my victory and about this trophy.
We are like a family here, and it's nice to see that we are happy for each other. It's like positive things all over. And 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.
Q. Before Stuart puts you back to work on the grass courts, how are you going to celebrate tonight? Where and for how long?
SIMONA HALEP: The friends and people around me are going to take care of this, and for sure it will be a big party. I'm waiting for it.
Q. Winning here, will you do like Virginia and buy an apartment here and live in Paris?
SIMONA HALEP: You never know what life gives you (smiling). For the moment I'm waiting to go home to see my Romanian fans.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports