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The history behind Roland Garros’ women’s final

Jun 11, 2017
written by: Kristina Borojevic
written by: Kristina Borojevic
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Mark the date on your calendar because it’s hard to imagine this happening again any time soon.

A few days after turning 20-years-old, Jelena Ostapenko, ranked 47 in the WTA rankings, defeated Simona Halep in the women’s final at Roland Garros.

Halep was aiming to win her maiden Grand Slam title and become the new world no. 1 in the process, but it was Ostapenko who had the upper hand and won her first Grand Slam title. The Latvian recovered from a set and a break down to defeat Halep 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. It was Halep’s second Grand Slam final, Ostapenko’s first.

History Made!

Ostapenko was a heavy underdog heading into the final. Karolina Pliskova, who lost to Halep in the semi-finals, said: “No doubt that Ostapenko, she’s having a good run here, and she’s dangerous, but I would bet everything I have on Simona.”

So what exactly was the history Ostapenko made in Paris over the past couple of weeks?


Ostapenko became the first unseeded woman to win Roland Garros in the Open Era (1968-present). On top of that, Ostapenko is their lowest-ranked champion.

While Latvians have had good runs at Grand Slams in the past, Ostapenko became the first player from Latvia to win a Major. Ernest Gulbis, career-high ATP no. 10, has made one Major semi-final at Roland Garros in 2014 and Anastasija Sevastova, current WTA no. 19, has one quarter-final appearance at the US Open in 2016.

How historic was this win for Ostapenko? Not only was it her first Grand Slam title – it was her first career title!

Ostapenko has not won a WTA tour-level title in her career. Her confident comeback in the final to win from a set and break down would make it seem like she’s been there, done that before, but she hasn’t. Only one other player has won their first career title at a Grand Slam. It was on June 8, 1997 – also the day Ostapenko was born. Gustavo Kuerten won his first professional title at Roland Garros. Ostapenko is the first woman to have her first career title come at a Grand Slam.

Ostapenko’s previous career-high ranking was no. 33. After Roland Garros, she’s comfortably at no. 12. It is the first time two Latvian woman are together in the WTA Top 20.