Editor's note: Simona Halep put together a comprehensive performance to stun 23-time major champion Serena Williams, 6-2, 6-2, in Saturday's Wimbledon championship to lift her second Grand Slam trophy.
Halep's press conference
Serena's press conference
Halep's victory lap
A look at Halep's whirlwind tour following her win. Among the pit stops included the presentation of her lifetime membership to the All England Club by Chairman Philip Brook.
Speaking with Sue Barker on court, the players each had this to say:
On whether she ever played a better match before?
“Never. It was the best match. Serena always inspired us. I have worked a lot for this moment. It’s honor to play in front of the Royal Box.”
On her nerves of steel:
“Well I had nerves. My stomach was not very well before the match. I knew there was no time for emotions. I just came on court and gave my best.”
On the significance of winning:
“It’s something very special and I will never forget this day. It was my mom’s dream when I was 10, 12. She said if I want to do something in tennis, I have to play in the final of Wimbledon.”
On her opponent's level of play:
“She literally played out of her mind. Congratulations Simona. It was a little bit of deer out of headlights for me.”
Final: Halep clinches 6-2, 6-2 victory
Down 2-4, Williams found three aces in a tense game and held two game points. But as she'd been all day, Halep was relentless from the baseline, and was rewarded on her second break point of the game. She ripped a backhand down the line to give herself a chance to serve out the championship. She then closed out the victory in just 56 minutes to become the first Romanian to win Wimbledon. What a performance.
Second set: Halep breaks for a 3-2 lead
Having exchanged four holds, Halep is the first to strike in the second set, using her supreme scrambling and anticipation to press the seven-time champion. She set up break point by penalizing Williams for coming forward, then converted when Williams pushed a sitting, open court backhand long. When will we see Serena’s business bun? She’s yet to unleash an ace on serve, despite having 45 coming into today's final. Halep came into the match making 83 percent of her returns, a clear cut above any of the American’s prior opponents.
First set: Halep wins 6-2
The eighth-ranked Halep came out roaring, reading the American’s serve, finishing shots with the utmost confidence and using her speed around the court to build a rapid 4-0 lead. Through four games, Williams, whose groundstrokes had trouble clearing the net, hit zero winners to nine unforced errors, a stark contrast to Halep’s six winners to zero unforced errors.
After saving a break point at 4-1, Halep would serve out the set on her first opportunity. Williams will look to take positives out of the final third of that set, where she struck eight winners and won eight consecutive points on serve to settle in.
History is on the line for both Williams and Halep. Playing in her third major final since becoming a mother to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, Williams hopes the third time is the charm as she looks to tie Margaret Court for an all-time record 24 major titles. Williams is 7-3 in title matches at the All England Club, 23-8 overall in Grand Slam finals, and already holds the distinction as the oldest woman in the Open era to win a major, with her 2017 Australian Open victory over sister Venus.
Halep is aiming to become the first Romanian to raise the Wimbledon trophy. After losing her first three major finals, Halep triumphed in the 2018 French Open final, and this marks her first Grand Slam championship tussle since achieving that breakthrough. As is Williams, Halep is bidding to win her first title of 2019, having finished runner-up in Doha and Madrid. The 27-year-old holds a career 18-17 mark in tour-level finals and will return to No. 4 in Monday’s rankings regardless of today’s outcome.
Williams has taken nine of 10 meetings against the eighth seed. In their three prior major clashes, the American prevailed in three sets, including at this year’s Australian Open, when Halep was the world No. 1. Their lone encounter on grass came in the second round of Wimbledon eight years ago.