Romanian tennis player Simona Halep, the 2018 Roland Garros winner, presented this evening the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen to a cheering crowd of 20,000 in Bucharest, on the National Arena. Halep won on Saturday her maiden Grand Slam title in Paris at the French Open.
On Monday evening, on National Arena, the Romanian capital’s newest stadium, the vibe was electrifying. Scores of people of all ages headed to the arena to welcome Simona Halep, the newly minted Roland Garros champion.
According to official sources, the welcome ceremony was intended to take place in one of the city’s main squares. However, as the time was too short for the municipality to release the relevant permits, the Bucharest City Hall proposed the stadium as a venue instead.
“Thank you very much for coming here this evening. I wanted very much to be here so we can enjoy together this trophy. Today I arrived in the country and I am happier even than I was in Paris on the centre court,” Halep told the roaring crowd which was chanting the already familiar “Si-mo-na, Si-mo-na!”
“I am very emotional, I did not expect this. It is a special moment,” she added. “I am very proud to be Romanian, as I keep on saying. This results came and are one hundred percent from this country and I’ve always believed that, even though I come from a small country, it is possible to achieve a great performance.”
“Everywhere I go I have you, a large public, which is also warm on top of everything. In Paris the atmosphere was incredible and everyone told me after that that this was the first time when a national anthem was sung, with lyrics. I want to thank you, you did something wonderful. Of course this road was very long, as you all know,” Halep added.”I want to thank all my coaches who put a brick to this performance, to my family who’ve supported me everyday,” she said. “I hope this trophy will signal the start of a new generation of champions.”
“I hope we will believe in ourselves more and to believe a hundred percent that we are strong and that we can achieve whatever we wish for. But before all that, we must dream,” she told the crowd.
Halep, who was previously declared honorary citizen of Bucharest, received from Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea the Key of the City and a plaque.
The ceremony was attended by Halep’s father, Stere Halep, as well as by Romanian tennis legend Ilie Nastase, among others.