Paris (AFP) – Saturday’s French Open women’s final — at a glance:
Simona Halep (ROM x1) v Sloane Stephens (USA x10)
Head-to-head: Halep leads 5-2
— The top seed is into her third French Open final and fourth overall at the majors.
— Last year, the 26-year-old Romanian squandered a set and 3-0 lead to lose the Paris title match to Jelena Ostapenko. In the 2014 final, she also lost in three sets to Maria Sharapova. At this year’s Australian Open, she was defeated in the final by Caroline Wozniacki, again in three sets.
— When she was a teenager, Halep underwent breast reduction surgery for personal comfort and to ease her movement around the court. “I would have gone for surgery even if I hadn’t been a sportswoman,” she said.
— Halep is also a committed businesswoman. As well as buying up property, she opened her own restaurant, called ‘SH’ in her home town of Constanta.
— Praised for her modesty on and off court, Sports Illustrated has described her as an ‘anti-diva’.
She says: “There is no pressure, no expectation. But I have another chance in the final and hope to do better than last year.”
— The American won her maiden Slam at the US Open last year, beating close friend Madison Keys in the final.
— Her victory in New York came on a ranking of 83 and just 69 days after returning to the tour following a near year-long absence caused by a foot injury and then surgery. Six weeks earlier, her ranking had been in the twilight zone at 957.
— Stephens will rise to at least number four in the world next week.
— She has a perfect 6-0 record in finals — Miami this year, the 2017 US Open, at Auckland, Acapulco and Charleston the year before while her first trophy came in 2015 in Washington DC.
— A media darling in press conferences. In Paris, she lamented the demise of her favourite ice cream parlour on the Champs Elysees. “That is so disrespectful.”
She says: “I normally look like — I wouldn’t say a homeless person — but I look like not very presentable.”