Justine Henin- Hardenne spoke of her pride and satisfaction at recovering from illness to return to the top of the women's game and become French Open champion for the second time.
Henin- Hardenne outclassed France's Mary Pierce, who famously claimed the title in 2000, 6-1, 6-1 at Roland Garros on Saturday to recapture the crown she won in 2003 and reaffirm her position as the 'clay court queen' after being stricken by glandular fever and cytomegalovirus (CMV) last year.
The Belgian said: "This is a great achievement because everybody knows what happened in the last few months.
"It was a very difficult time last year and I didn't know if I was going to be able to be at my best any more. But now I have a little bit of an answer.
"It's a big satisfaction, I'm very proud to have answered a lot of questions and I think I proved it many times in the last few weeks that I'm back. So that's great."
Henin- Hardenne has endured a torrid time since winning the Australian Open last year and doctors have warned the 2004 Athens gold medalist to be careful about the number of tournaments she plays this season since contracting the immune system infection.
The disease will affect the Belgian superstar for the rest of her career, indeed the rest of her life, but Henin-Hardenne remains positive about the virus and says that it will not stop her winning even more titles.
She said: "I've had a pretty hard time but I think it's made me stronger.
"The next three months are going to be key and I'll never play more than three weeks in a row, and I'll take the rest when I need it. That's the important thing right now, if I'm healthy, I can play.
"I've worked so hard and it's paid off. It's not only about the virus, it's about the burn-out.
"I've never stopped. I'm not so tall, I'm not so strong, so I give a lot of energy on the court.
"Winning here is a real dream for me and I'm going to continue working hard and keeping the dreams alive."
Henin-Hardenne said she would not take part in the Eastbourne grass-court event so she can rest before Wimbledon, where she was a finalist in 2001.
She said: "I will pull out from Eastbourne and then play at Wimbledon. I need a rest.
"I have played a lot of matches in the last few weeks and I won't make the same mistakes as in the past. I have no choice even if this makes me feel sad."