The Romanian, twice a beaten finalist in Paris, did it the hard way. After dropping the first set, the 26-year-old came from a break down in the second set to lead 4-2. And just as it seemed she had the momentum, the 10th seed pegged her back to 4-4.
But Halep produced a second surge on the back of consistently deep groundstrokes and scintillating athleticism to win the set and take a 5-0 lead in the decider.
Luck was also with her. At deuce at 3-0 in the third set after scuttling to both sides of the court to stay in the point, her backhand cross court hit the net cord as Stephens advanced.
The deflection flummoxed the American who botched her backhand volley. It gave Halep a break point and with more acrobatics at the net, she sealed the double break to lead 4-0.
Stephens looked aghast at her box in the stands. Her perfect record in finals was in jeopardy. It was simply Halep’s day. And the Romanian wrapped up the decider 6-1 to furnish her with her dream title.
“Last year it was tough to talk because I lost the final," said Halep. "This year it’s really emotional to talk as a winner. I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was 14. I wanted this trophy here in France.”
It’s fourth time lucky for Halep. She had lost her previous three Grand Slam finals to Maria Sharapova, Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Wozniacki.
“Congratulations Simona on your first Grand Slam. It looks great on you,” said Stephens graciously. “No one else I’d rather lose to than the world number one.”
While Halep confirmed her status as world number one following her semi-final win over Garbine Muguruza, Stephens will rise in the world rankings of her run to the final She will also pick up a runners-up cheque of 1,120,000 euros.