Simona Halep is now the Wimbledon champion, after a dominant performance against the seven-time winner Serena Williams. The Romanian was always in control and needed just 55 minutes to secure a 6-2 6-2 victory. With a 1-9 head to head prior to this match, there will have been few expecting a Halep win but it was a result rarely in doubt from the start.
Serena would have wanted to keep points short but there were punishing rallies from the get-go, something that was always going to play into Halep’s favour. The seventh seed had been great on return all tournament and this was no different, with a deep return creating the error on break point for her to go 1-0 up. A second break came with a killer return winner as Serena wilted under the pressure against her inspired opponent. She did have an opportunity for the break back at 1-4* but hit a forehand error on break point to keep the game rolling on. Halep’s retrieving was outstanding throughout and there have been few better shots in the tournament than her cross court winner to seal the game and take a 5-1 lead.
A couple of routine holds at the start of the second set suggested Serena had finally woken up after a sub-par first set but she was still struggling to make inroads into the Halep serve. Things went all wrong in the 2-2 game as some elite defending from Halep eventually forced an error after a lengthy rally, to make it 0-30. An ill-advised net approach allowed her to be picked off to go down two break points, the first of which was given up after an easy putaway somehow went long from the American. She would have a chance from 15-30 to break right back but two huge Halep serves put her on the way to a hold and a 4-2 lead.
The huge Serena serve was not seen much throughout this match but she did display signs of it in the next game, moving to game point from 0-30 thanks to some big serves. However, she still gave up the game eventually and with it – any chance of a comeback. Halep sealed the match with a love hold, to cap off what was a stunning victory against an all-time great.
Serena was full of praise afterwards, knowing she was outplayed comprehensively in this match. “She just played great. So I don’t think it’s a surprise for anyone to play great against me, I just was trying different things. Today nothing really helped, but I also made way too many errors for a lot of stuff to work.” she said. “I think she was getting so many balls back. I do have a strategy for players that do get a lot of balls back, which I thought about far too late. I think I was overhitting it, trying to go for too much. She was getting just a tremendous amount of balls back.”
“I wanted this badly. When I started the tournament, I talked to the people from the locker room that my dream is to become a member here. So today it’s real and I’m really happy. I’m very sure that was the best match of my life, and also on grass against her is never easy. So I’m really proud of my game of today and the whole tournament.” Halep said. She hit just three unforced winners in the match, in what has to be one of the cleanest performances in a final.
Serena may be happy to make a slam final after so little match time this year but her invincibility in finals does appear to be fading. Once almost unbeatable in slam finals, she is now 2-5 in her last 7 and has lost the last three. Meanwhile, Halep will move into the top 5 and look to take the confidence from this into the US Open in August. It is now the only slam she has not made at least the final in, having just 1 SF run back in 2015.