Buoyed by newfound faith and backed by pure power, Pierce did her best to forget about the scoreline, the 15,000 expectant fans and the magnitude of the moment.
The crowd, meanwhile, roared its thunderous approval with each point she claimed during the final moments of her 6-2, 7-5 victory over Martinez in the final.
Tears flowed as Pierce, serenaded by appreciative throngs on a sun-baked afternoon in Paris, hoisted the trophy - her long journey in Paris had come full circle.
“To win Roland-Garros 20 years ago with the support of the country, the fans, the whole stadium cheering for me, to have my whole family and team there - it was very special to be able to live that,” Pierce told rolandgarros.com. “You feel such strong emotions and feelings when the whole crowd roars and claps and cheers your name. Basically your whole body illuminates with an amazing feeling.”
The triumph was a long time coming for Pierce, who was making her 11th main draw appearance in Paris, and had lost a final to Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario in 1994. The very next year, in 1995, Pierce broke through and won her first major title at the Australian Open - a crowning achievement that only served to heighten the expectations placed on her shoulders each time she returned to Stade Roland-Garros.