The best match of Simona Halep’s life could not have come at a better time. The Romanian defeated Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 to win the first Wimbledon title of career, and also deny Williams the opportunity of tying Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 majors. In a bit of a surprise, Halep needed just 56 minutes to defeat arguably the greatest player in the sport’s history.
Here’s what that winning moment looked like:
The Romanian got off to a fast start, going up 2-0 within just five minutes. Her hustle played a huge part in that early lead, but it certainly also helped that Williams put together a string of mistakes that dug herself deeper and deeper into a hole. It quickly became 4-0 just a few minutes later, and while Serena made inroads towards a return to top form, the deficit proved to be insurmountable for the 37-year-old, and the set went Halep’s way.
But a new set didn’t help Williams get back into the swing of things at all. Sure, her mistakes were new fewer and farther between one another, but Halep had reached a level of being locked-in that she had never been at for her entire career and played almost flawlessly to a 5-2 lead. Halep took the final game of the set with a dominating shutout. Despite the strong finish, the Romanian still dropped to her knees in celebration and disbelief and what she had just done, and who she had just beaten to do it.
“I had nerves,” she said on court. “My stomach was not very well before the match. But I had no time for emotions and just came out and tried my best.
“It was my mum’s dream when I was about 10. And the day came and my mum is here to see it. I have worked a lot to change a little bit my game to play on grass. I started to feel this year when the ball comes to me I knew what to do with it. I can’t wait to come back here.”
Serena, to her credit, was gracious in defeat, acknowledging that Halep had “played out of her mind” and that after a performance like that “you just have to take your hat off and give her a nod.”
Perhaps the sweetest feeling for Halep is the fact that this victory comes just one year after an unseeded Hsieh Su-wei knocked the top-seeded Romanian out of Wimbledon. Comeback stories of that proportion aren’t exactly new to this year.