Rafael Nadal claimed the 14th French Open title of his astonishing career and vowed he would "keep fighting" to earn even more success.
There had been speculation during this Roland Garros fortnight that Nadal could retire if he landed the trophy, a record-extending 22nd men's singles grand slam.
Yet the 36-year-old, who has won two majors this year despite being hampered by a long-bothersome foot problem, is determined to play on until his body refuses.
He thrashed Casper Ruud 6-3 6-3 6-0, reigning in Paris once again, some 17 years after his first triumph. Watched by the king of Spain, Felipe VI, Nadal was again sensational on the red clay, becoming the oldest champion.
"For me personally, it is very difficult to describe the feelings that I have," Nadal said.
"I for sure never believed I'd be here at 36 being competitive again, playing in the most important court of my career once again. It means a lot of energy to try to keep going."
36 & 2 - Rafael #Nadal (36 years and 2 days) is the oldest male player to win the Roland Garros in the history of this tournament - since 1925. Lasting.#RolandGarros #RolandGarros2022 pic.twitter.com/2JAQOyvvAD— OptaAce (@OptaAce) June 5, 2022
Nadal told the crowd: "It's unbelievable to play here with your support. I don't know what can happen in the future, but I'm going to keep fighting to try to keep going."
Addressing Ruud, Norway's first men's grand slam singles finalist, Nadal said: "I want to congratulate you for an amazing career you are having, and this two weeks is a very important step forward, so I am very, very happy for you and for all your family. I'm very happy for you and wish you all the very best for the future."
Nadal praised his family and support team for giving him strength when times have been tough. He looked in intense pain recently in Rome, but Nadal has come back to take his career to new heights.
"It's completely amazing the things that are happening this year," said Nadal, who won the Australian Open in January. "Without you, nothing of this will be possible without any doubt.
"Especially in the very tough moments that we went through in terms of injuries. If I don't have a great support from the team – family, everybody that has been next to me – nothing of this would be possible because I would be retired much before, so many, many thanks for everything."
As Nadal considers whether he could push for a calendar grand slam by targeting Wimbledon and the US Open, Ruud will reflect on a tough first grand slam final experience.
Ruud idolised Nadal from a young age and in recent years has trained at the Spaniard's Mallorca academy.
Runner-up Ruud said: "The first thing and the most important thing is to congratulate Rafa. It's your 14th time here, a 22nd all-around in grand slams.
"We all know what a champion you are, and today I got to feel how it is to play you in a final, and it's not easy, and I'm not the first victim. I know there have been many before."
At that point, the crowd bellowed "Ruuuuudddd", the shout that sounds like a boo but is wholly affectionate. They have taken Ruud to their hearts, and once Nadal retires he may well have his own glory days on the Paris clay.
"To you, Rafa, your team, your family, you've taken me into your academy with open arms," Ruud added. "We all hope you will continue for some more time."