Unseeded Czech Barbora Krejcikova sealed her quick rise in the singles game by claiming the first Grand Slam title in the French Open.
Krejcikova beat Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1 2-6 6-4 in just five of her matches.
Former world number one honorary mentor Jana Novotna, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 49, said she owed her success.
“She looks up at me,” said Krejcikova, 25. Krejcikova often talks about the impact of former Wimbledon champion Novotna, who died of cervical cancer.
When she was 18 years old and wanted to play, Krejcikova’s parents took her to Novotna and asked for advice from the world’s No. 2.
Novotna saw something special and became a coach, mentor and friend until her death.
“I was going through a very difficult time when Jana passed away. I had a lot of time with her.
“Her last words were very sweet ‘just having fun and trying to win the Grand Slam’,” Krejcikova said.
Pointing to the sky, she added: “I know she is looking at me somewhere.
“And everything that has happened in the last two weeks is very good because she takes care of me.
“Amazingly, I had the opportunity to meet her, and she was an inspiration. I hope she’s very happy and very happy.”
‘Many things will change.’
On Sunday, Krejcikova has a chance to win double when she plays in the final with her Czech teammate Katerina Siniakova.
No player has won single and double women’s titles at Roland Garros since Mary Pierce of France in 2000.
Krejcikova blocked the first half of what would be a rare double. When she pulled out a win with her fourth point of the game.
“I’m so glad I was able to enjoy it. I’m so happy that I can’t even express in words,” said world number 33 Krejcikova. She has won two Grand Slams women’s titles and three mixed titles.
“It’s hard to put it in words because I don’t believe in what just happened. I don’t believe I won the Grand Slam.”
Moving on to the finals, Krejcikova was determined to avoid being called a ‘double’ specialist. And winning 31 seeds, Pavlyuchenkova ensured that this would not be the case.
Krejcikova specializes in sewing and gardening with her parents, among her hobbies.
She understands that the focus will be on her now. But she also says winning will not change her outlook on life and work.
“I plan to work hard again. This is a big motivation for me to work hard, enjoy this trip. Enjoy tennis and everything,” Krejcikova said.
“I think a lot of things will change. But, for me, I will always be a little girl from my little town Ivancice, near Brno. The girl starting on the tennis wall. Nothing will change.”
American celebrity Billie Jean King, master of 12 Grand Slam songs, was among those who congratulated her.
So is Iga Swiatek of Poland won last year’s title and faced Krejcikova in the double final.
Pavlyuchenkova cannot add a senior title to a junior success.
For the sixth year in a row in Paris, it was confirmed that the first Grand Slam champion would be crowned in the singles final.
Very few, if any, would predict that Krejcikova and Pavlyuchenkova would be in contention for the tournament.
This came despite Krejcikova warming up for the Strasbourg title. And 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova reaching the semi-finals in Madrid last month.
Mental resilience and recall of difficult times proved Krejcikova’s run to the finals. Especially in her victory in the semi-finals against Maria Sakkari of Greece.
She first had to save the match point on the deciding set. And then she was unfairly denied a wrong call for a call. Before inventing to take his fifth point of the game later.
After two double errors led to a break in the first leg of the final. Krejcikova responded by striking out the next six games in just 21 minutes.
The second set was completely different.
Pavlyuchenkova, who hits harder than the very different Krejcikova, has loosened her grip. And she has grown in confidence as she begins to reap many rewards on the way to a 5-1 lead.
The Russian player missed one of the breaks in the seventh game. And then they needed a seven-minute break. In which she ate a bag of sweets while receiving treatment due to a thigh injury.
Without hesitation, she broke into the next game to seek a second set. And make sure the decision-maker would decide who won the title.
The break breaks were exchanged 2-2 before Krejcikova got the first step with a good comeback game where they started to love.
Pavlyuchenkova, who has won two Grand Slam titles at a young age, saved two points for the championship 5-3. But could not stop Krejcikova from winning the title in the next match.
The French pair wins a double men’s title.
In the other final of the day at Roland Garros, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut were the first Frenchmen to win the Grand Slam twice.
They beat the Kazakhs Alexander Bublik and Andrey Golubev 4-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-4 after a disappointing start to the season.
It is their fifth Grand Slam title after their 2018 French Open victories. And titles at the 2015 US Open, Wimbledon in 2016. And the 2019 Australian Open.