Simona Halep played a near-flawless final on Saturday to become the first Romanian woman to win Wimbledon. At the same time she crushed Serena Williams’s bid for a record-equalling 24th major, a dream that grows more unlikely by the day.
The Romanian won 6-2 6-2 in front of an incredulous Centre Court, running after everything the American threw at her.
This is Simona’s second victory against Serena in 11 matches. Halep’s first victory against the American champion was at the Champions Tournament in 2014, when she won in two sets (6-0, 6-2).
The 37-year-old American – still one short of Margaret Court’s all-time tally – smiled graciously at the end but will have been crying inside, while Halep beamed like a lighthouse in celebration of a 6-2, 6-2 drubbing in 56 minutes of perhaps the game’s greatest player.
Williams, like in last year’s final defeat by Angelique Kerber, seemed weighed down by public and personal expectations as she quickly fell 4-0 behind in the opening set.
Halep had said beforehand that she had no pressure on her and that is exactly how she played.
From the outset she looked relaxed and confident, attacking the Williams serve and keeping the rallies long and deep to force the American into errors.
A hat-trick of errors, culminating in a forehand wide, cost Williams her opening service game and Halep held to love to go 2-0 up inside five minutes, the perfect start.
With just 11 minutes on the clock Simona Halep had won the first four games and she barely slowed, facing just one break point – which she saved.
Halep’s movement around the court contrasted with a sluggish Williams – who at one point was urged to “wake up” by one shout from the crowd – and her tenacity in the rallies forced the American to overcook her shots through what felt like desperation at times.
Williams started to get herself a bit more into the match early in the second set but when she came to the net for a volley with the whole court at her disposal and only managed to find the net, giving Halep the break, she must have known it was not going to be her day.
Simona Halep won the next three games in a row, falling to her knees with her arms raised to the sky in celebration as Centre Court rose to its feet in appreciation of one of the greatest Wimbledon final performances.
Defeat means Williams’ wait for a first Grand Slam title since becoming a mum continues, as does her pursuit of an eighth Wimbledon singles title.
The victory at Wimbledon comes with EUR 2.5 million worth of prize money and 2,000 WTA points.