Here we look at the 10 greatest Women’s Singles Finals at Roland Garros ever.
#10 1998, Vicario vs Seles
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario won the title, defeating Monica Seles, 7–6(7–5), 0–6, 6–2, in the final, marking the last time Sánchez Vicario defeated Seles at any tournament. It’s also the personal last Grand Slam final of both Sánchez and Seles.
Monica Seles, who somehow willed her way into the French Open final a few short weeks after losing her father to cancer, had sympathy and tragedy on her side of the net. If anyone deserved a happy ending to two draining weeks on this soggy red clay, it was Seles.
A three-time champion here, she made an inspired bid for a 10th career Grand Slam singles crown at the very event that launched her back in 1990.
#9 2007, Justine Henin vs Ana Ivanovic
The two-time defending champion was Justine Henin. She captured her 4th overall and 3rd consecutive French Open title after defeating Ana Ivanovic of Serbia 6–1, 6–2 in the championship match. This would be Henin’s last French open title (4th), and Ivanovic would capture her first grand slam at Roland Garros the following year. She became the first woman since Monica Seles in 1990-92 to win three consecutive Roland Garros titles, and only the second since 1937
Ivanovic, a Serb playing in her first Grand Slam final, started well before her play deteriorated. The first sign of trouble came when she awkwardly hit a serve 10 feet long, prompting groans from the crowd. She double-faulted to fall behind 3-1, and the mistakes came in flurries after that.
#8 Steffi Graf vs Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 1989
This was the first time that an unseeded player had won the Roland Garros that too against someone who became an overnight sensation by beating the “machine” Martina Navratilova. Vicario’s debut Grand slam win ensured she secured the no.1 seed in the foreseeable future.
As for Steffi Graf was the two-time defending champion, but lost in the final to 17-year-old, 7–6(8–6), 3–6, 7–5, ending her winning streak of Grand Slam singles titles at five. Graf served for the third set at 5–3, but lost the game at love and won only three more points in the match from that point. It was the first of Sánchez-Vicario’s three French Open titles, which she also won in 1994 and 1998.
#7 1993, Steffi Graf vs Mary Joe Fernandez
Monica Seles was the defending champion, but she was unable to compete due to being stabbed the previous month. Steffi Graf won her first French Open since 1988, defeating Mary Joe Fernández in the final, 4-6,6-2,6-4. Following this tournament, Graf recaptured the World No. 1 ranking. It was also Fernández’ third and final appearance in a Grand Slam singles final .
An underdog at that time, fifth-seeded Mary Joe Fernandez, who resurrected herself from the brink of elimination against third-seeded Gabriela Sabatini in a bizarre quarterfinal encounter that produced five match points for each player, started under picnic conditions in bright sunshine and ended with the court swathed in evening shadows.
#6 2014, Sharapova vs Halep
2nd in a row and fifth overall, Sharapova muddled in the 2nd set, recovered in the 3rd and won the match, which lasted more than 3 hours. She won the match 6-4, 6-7, 6-4.
For all the talk of this being Halep’s first ever grand slam final, the Romanian looked at home on the big stage and against a lesser opponent would’ve picked up a maiden major title today. But Sharapova raised her bar when she needed too, outmuscling her opponent despite suffering from her service game and gifting the No. 4 seed, a number of points with her high number of double faults. It was the women’s final the Parisians craved, one that went the distance for the first time since 2001 when Halep managed to dig deep in the second set tie-break with Sharapova two points from clinching the match in straight sets.
#5 Monica Seles vs Steffi Graf, 1992
The match saw a tireless and silent effort by Graf (which was her trademark style), but her close-to-superhuman effort couldn’t manage to end her losing streak which was continuing since 1989, thus she lost to Seles 2-6, 6-3,8-10.
For nearly three hours, the 18-year-old Seles used her spring-loaded strokes to try to discourage Graf, and she finally gained her third consecutive French Open title, and the sixth Grand Slam title of her career, when Graf made a habitual move at just the wrong time.
#4 2005, Justine Henin Hardenne vs Mary Pierce
Justine Henin Hardenne, seeded 10th claimed the title, defeating home player Mary Pierce in the final, 6–1, 6–1. This was Henin Hardenne’s second French Open, and her first in a string of three consecutive.
Pierce crumbled under the relentless pressure and handed Henin victory on her comeback from a viral condition at Roland Garros. Henin has struggled with fatigue and back injuries on her way to the final but was at her brilliant best on Philippe Chatrier Court. The 23-year-old did not look back after Pierce held her first service-game, sweeping to nine games in a row. Henin was solid, keeping up her defenses while peppering Pierce with rasping groundstrokes and even some deft play at the net.
#3 1995, Steffi Graf vs Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario was the defending champion, but she was defeated in the final by Steffi Graf 5-7,6-4,0-6. Sánchez Vicario lost the World No. 1 ranking to Graf following this tournament, and would never recapture it.
Advantage, ladies. On the 32nd point of the 11th game of the third set, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario fluttered a backhand from the baseline into the skirt of the net and Centre Court let its breath out. Steffi Graf allowed herself a clenched fist in self-appreciation and all of the women’s tennis whooped a happy thanks. It had been a game for the ages when all it was hoping for was a game for the 10 o’clock news. It had a moment to measure by, and even the right winner again, the presold one with the short name and six silver Rosewater Dishes for her mantel.
#2 2001, Jennifer Capriati vs Kim Clijsters
Capriati won 1-6, 6-14, 12-10, a strenuous third set, probably one of the longest 3rd in the French Open history.
After holding her first service game Capriati lost seven in succession to be a set down and reeling on the ropes as her 18-year-old opponent hit a stream of deep, powerful winners.
#1 1996, Steffi Graf vs Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
She might have had a rickety start but it went down in the books as the longest women’s final in the Roland Garros history. Steffi Graf, the defending champion of the French Open, retained her title today in a 3-hour-3-minute epic confrontation with fourth-seeded Arantxa Sanchez Vicario of Spain.
Graf’s 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 10-8 victory, reduced Sanchez Vicario to tears of exhaustion and Graf to tears of joy and delivered the resolute German her 19th Grand Slam singles title. The dramatic victory moved her into a tie with Helen Wills Moody for second place in her sport’s most prestigious record book behind the Australian Margaret Court and her 24 titles.