Persistence pays off as steely Halep scales new heights
The overwhelming sense of relief could be felt far beyond Roland Garros when Simona Halep silenced the doubters before clambering up to her box as she scaled new heights in Paris.
Halep has had to contend with question after question about her inability to claim a major title after losing three finals, including two in the last year alone.
The Romanian's mental strength had been doubted following a second French Open final defeat 12 months ago and a loss to Caroline Wozniacki in an Australian Open decider in January.
Top seed Halep said "no one died" when her record in major finals was brought up - not for the first time - in a press conference following her ruthless semi-final victory over Garbine Muguruza on Thursday.
There looked to be a distinct danger the world number one would be dealing with more awkward enquiries when she fell 2-0 down in the second set, having lost the first to Sloane Stephens in her third final at Roland Garros on Saturday.
Halep insisted she would stay "chilled" as she attempted to end her major hoodoo in the French capital and the 26-year-old proved to be ice-cool as she mounted a stirring fightback to win 3-6 6-4 6-1.
It was Stephens who was feeling the heat, having looked comfortable for much of a gripping contest on Court Phillipe Chatrier.
Halep had led by a set and 3-0 in the second set last year before Jelena Ostapenko consigned her to a heartbreaking defeat on the famous clay in the French capital.
Persistence finally paid off for the favourite, who showed there is no issue with her mindset by pushing Stephens back at every opportunity, charging around every inch of a court where she has endured such pain.
She had been made to run by the US Open champion far more than she would have liked in the opening set and early in the second, but it was Stephens doing the majority of the chasing from then on.
Halep drew gasps from the crowd and roars of 'Simona, Simona' reverberated around the plush grounds as she drew on her agonising experiences to claim a prize that had been so elusive.
Ten years after winning the junior title at the same venue, Halep's smile lit up Roland Garros again after she came of age and showed her maturity to become one of the most popular grand-slam winners.
She threw down her racquet, held her head in her hands and looked up to the skies before clambering up to embrace coach Darren Cahill, who briefly split with her last year after taking issue with her attitude.
This could just be the start for a fierce competitor who has lifted a huge weight off her shoulders and proved perseverance pays off.