June 30, 2018
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. What did you think it was going to be like to be a major champion, and what has been the reality?
SIMONA HALEP: No, the same. I didn't expect a big change. Of course, inside of myself it's a change because I'm really happy that I was able to break that barrier.
Life is the same. Everybody's the same. I am the same. I have to start again to play tournaments. I'm here ready to go ahead. I'm really looking forward to start it.
I don't know how it's going to be, this tournament. I smile a lot. I feel happy. I'm happy to be back on court.
Q. You said there was a change inside of you. What was that change?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, the pressure is off. The dream came true. So I don't stress myself any more with that Grand Slam thing. It's nice to be in this position. But, you know, gives me just happy moments, nothing else.
I was dreaming for this. I did it. Now I have already set another goal.
Q. What is the new goal?
SIMONA HALEP: The new goal? Actually it's about the Olympics. I would love to have an Olympic medal. So my focus is on that.
Q. After Paris, when you're talking to Darren, is the discussion, Hey, enjoy it, take all the time you need to enjoy it? Is it, We have to get back to work? What has that discussion been like with the coach? What is the mentality here?
SIMONA HALEP: He didn't say take whatever you want. Like the period was very limited. I had only 10 days to relax. I relaxed because I didn't play tennis. I needed a break.
But I knew that I have actually to keep myself together for this Grand Slam. Is an important tournament. I have to be focused on it. But after this tournament, I will have a big holiday. I really need it.
So the conversation was the same. He was really proud of what I did. He was really proud that I could change myself, I could improve in my attitude and all those things. And then he just said, Back to work.
Q. How was preparation for this tournament? How much do you know about your first-round opponent?
SIMONA HALEP: I slept a lot when I had those two weeks off (smiling). I came here actually eight days ago. I practiced on grass. I feel okay. I feel ready. I didn't have an official match yet, but it happens when you go till the end the French Open.
I know that my opponent is very fast, is playing flat. I need just to be strong on my legs, to be ready for a fight. It's going to be a big battle.
Q. You were hitting with Lleyton for a little bit. What does his ball feel like these days?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I didn't play with him when he used to play. But the ball is really strong. The backhand is amazing: flat and good depth. It was great to have a practice with him. He gave me some good thoughts. To practice with a Grand Slam champion is always nice. Gives you confidence. Gives you the feeling that, if you are on court with these people, you deserve. You are, like, with them there.
I felt good.
Q. Do you feel like you are part of a different club now that you have a Grand Slam championship?
SIMONA HALEP: Not really. But, of course, means a lot, a lot for me. I was actually working for this every day since I started to play professional tennis.
As I said, inside myself, yeah, it's a big change, but outside is the same.
Q. What are some of the unusual or specific superstitions or routines that you have before a match?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, I have the routine every time before the match I do it. I have also my superstitions, but I never talk about them. So I'm not going to tell you the superstitions.
The routine is the same: practice, shower in the same spot, changing the clothes in the same spot in the locker room, making my hair. Never looks good on court, but I try. I try my best every time (smiling).
Normal things. Nothing special. Normal routine every day.
Q. How about the music that you listen to, if anything, on your way onto the court?
SIMONA HALEP: No, I didn't listen in the last 12 months, I think. I stopped doing that. I feel more relaxed. I feel more concentrated on my game. I prefer to keep that. So no music any more.
Q. You said nothing changed outside of you. When you went back to your home country after Roland Garros, I saw a video of a huge celebration. Talk about that experience.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, actually it was one of my best moments. To see over 20,000 people coming out to see me and to see the trophy, it was amazing. Actually I had tears in my eyes actually receiving the love from the people.
It's really nice to see that those people were appreciating my work and my result. I think it was a dream for them also, to have a tennis player winning a Grand Slam again after 40 years. It was an amazing moment. I really thank them for doing that. It was special. I took a lot of energy from them.
Q. To be a top athlete from a smaller country, it's different than maybe being a top athlete from a bigger country.
SIMONA HALEP: For sure.
Q. I know for you in Romania it's very specific. Sometimes that can be a burden for some players, pressure. Sometimes it can be a great thing. How have you learned to manage that through your career?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't believe that now is going to be a bigger pressure than before because before was huge pressure and everyone was talking that I'm not able to win a Grand Slam because I am weak mentally. But now I did it. I feel like the people realize that if you don't give up, if you work, keep working on what you have less good, you can be able to realize your dream.
So now I feel that everybody's more relaxed. Of course, I have more questions about autographs, pictures. It's a little bit crazy in my country. But I enjoy it. I try to manage it as good as possible.
I'm used to it because last year was the same, when I touched No. 1. But now I feel it bigger and I feel it nicer.
Q. A young Romanian girl, Rus, qualified and said she wants to be No. 1 like you. There are a lot of female Romanians in the top 100 as well.
SIMONA HALEP: We are six, I think.
Q. Do you feel influential, that people look to you?
SIMONA HALEP: I feel like they were more motivated. They believed more that is possible because I was able to do these things. Of course, everyone can do it.
I just feel that they have more confidence now to be able to dream, to achieve more things, bigger things. I'm happy if it's like this. I'm happy that they take it like a positive and they work harder.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports