The newest member of the All England Club was undoubtedly its happiest after Simona Halep played the match of her life to defeat Serena Williams and win her first Wimbledon title.
Williams had gone into the match as the favourite as she once again sought the elusive 24th Grand Slam singles title that would see her equal Margaret Court’s all-time record.
It appeared that history weighed heavily, but, even at her best, Williams would have had her work cut out to match Halep, who played a near flawless match to win 6-2, 6-2 in just 56 minutes.
“I knew that I have to be aggressive, being 100 per cent for every ball, that I don’t have to let her come back to the match because she’s so powerful and so strong,” said the 27-year-old, who won her first Slam title at the French Open last summer.
“She knows how to manage every moment. So I knew that I have to stay there, which I did pretty well today. I’m very sure that was the best match of my life.”
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Halep, the first Romanian to win a Wimbledon singles title, walked into her post-match press conference with her member’s badge pinned proudly to her top.
“I wanted this badly,” she said. “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 met (chairman) Philip (Brook). He told me, ‘Any time you want, you can come, have dinner, have lunch, playing a little bit of tennis’. I will come for sure.”
By reaching the final, Halep had fulfilled the dream of her mother Tania, who was watching along with other family members from the stands.
“It was my mum’s dream when I was about 10, 12,” said Halep. “She said if I want to do something in tennis I have to play the final of Wimbledon. So the day came.”
Lifting the Venus Rosewater dish was beyond the dream, and something Halep admitted she did not think she would be able to achieve until this year, when she suddenly found her feet on grass.
The occasion proved too much for Tania when she was reunited with her daughter afterwards.
“She didn’t say anything because she was crying,” said Halep. “I just hugged her and I kissed her. I just told her that we’ll talk later.”
Halep, who also took inspiration from the presence of the Duchess of Cambridge in the Royal Box, had only won one of her previous 10 matches against Williams.
One of the keys, she revealed, was not thinking about the woman across the other side of the net.
“I didn’t think at all against who I play,” she said. “I’ve always been intimidated a little bit when I faced Serena. She’s an inspiration for everyone and the model for everyone.
“Today I decided before the match that I’m going to focus on myself and on the final of a Grand Slam, not on her. That’s why I was able to play my best, to be relaxed, and to be able to be positive and confident against her.”News Now - Sport News