Gracious Stephens praises champion Halep
Sloane Stephens was proud of her run in Paris, despite falling short in her bid to win the French Open title on Saturday.
The 10th seed saw her hopes of claiming a second grand-slam title dashed by Simona Halep, who fought back from a set and a break down to win an absorbing final at Roland Garros.
Halep's 3-6 6-4 6-1 triumph finally ends her wait for a major, making amends for the loss to Jelena Ostapenko at the same stage of last year's tournament.
Gracious in defeat, reigning US Open champion Stephens credited her opponent with raising her game when under pressure.
"She raised her game, raised her level. Not much you can really do about that," the 25-year-old American told the media.
"I competed the best I could, and the better player won the match.
"Obviously being in a grand slam final is very special. It's a great opportunity. Not very many players ever get to a grand slam final.
"The fact that I have won one and been in another final in such a short period of time, I'm very optimistic and very pleased with myself. I'm not satisfied, but I am proud of myself."
Stephens also praised world number one Halep's mental toughness after overcoming a "tough journey" to reach the summit.
The Romanian fought back to claim a see-saw second set and then eased through the decider, in the process securing her maiden slam at the 33rd attempt.
"I think she's had a tough journey. I think winning here is very special for her and I'm glad she finally got her first slam," Sloanes said of the champion.
"It's a beautiful thing, very special. No matter how hard the adversity that you go through, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm glad she finally got her light.
"I just think in playing, her journey has been tough, and she had a heartbreak here last year and in Australia and all the things that have happened to her.
"I mean, it's a great story and just a great moment for her, and you can only support the other person and be happy for them. Because if it was the other way around, I know that it would be reciprocated."