Flawless Simona Halep beats Serena Williams to win 1st Wimbledon

Posted at 4:42 PM, Jul 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-13 16:43:18-04

(CNN) — History was made at Wimbledon on Saturday but if you were rooting for Serena Williams, it wasn’t what you hoped for.

Simona Halep became the first Romanian to win Wimbledon when she stunned the American 6-2 6-2 in what had to be one of the finest performances in a final in the tournament’s recent history.

“She really played out of her mind,” Williams told the crowd.

Petra Kvitova’s 6-3 6-0 victory over Eugenie Bouchard in 2014 sprung to mind as another glittering display.

Halep needed only one more minute than the Czech, 56, to see off the 37-year-old Williams.

Her three unforced errors were the fewest in a Wimbledon final since records were kept in 1998, one less than Kvitova’s tally.

“I’ve always been intimidated a little bit when I faced Serena,” Halep, who struck 13 winners, told reporters. “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.”

Halep claimed her second major after the 2018 French Open. Williams, meanwhile, fell in a third straight grand slam final for the first time in her record-breaking career.

All have been on her comeback after becoming a mom in September 2017.

“For me any loss is not easy,” said Williams. “When someone plays lights out, there’s really not much you can do. You just have to understand that was their day today.

“Hopefully I can raise the level of my game sometimes.”

She has been short of matches due to a knee injury this season that hindered her French Open.

“Seems like every grand slam final I’m in recently has been an unbelievable effort to get there,” Williams added. “It would be interesting to see how it would be under different circumstances.”

Perhaps the US Open is where Williams will tie Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 majors.

Royal watchers

Watching Saturday from the Royal Box were Williams’ friend, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, whom Halep met afterward.

“She’s very kind, very nice,” said Halep, who also reveled in becoming a member of the All England Club after winning the title.

Halep is a different type of player to the attacking Kvitova, a superb counterpuncher.

And unlike Kvitova, grass has never been her favorite surface. Rather it has been the clay.

But Halep was so good in her first Wimbledon final it took her seven games to make one unforced error.

Her athleticism and retrieving perhaps destabilized Williams, contributing to the top server women’s tennis has ever seen hitting a mere two aces.

Halep may own a 2-9 record against Williams but both her wins have been resounding, the other being a 6-0 6-2 result at the WTA finals in Singapore in 2014 that gave her a boost of confidence.

“Today I just went for it like in Singapore,” said Halep. “I had that image in my head. I really believed there is the chance to do the same thing.”

The world No. 7 said she had a few butterflies before the encounter yet it didn’t show. She broke Williams in the first game, part of a run where she claimed seven consecutive points.

Sublime backhand

Halep showed why she’s one of the best movers around when she chased a ball in her forehand corner, then finished with a sublime backhand cross court near the net.

Williams knew all about Halep but in case she needed another reminder, that was it.

Halep got some luck in the third game, seeing her ball off the net cord stay inside the court while Williams’ reply clipped the tape and landed on her side.

Also one of tennis’ fiercest returners, Halep earned a double break advantage with a backhand return winner down the line.

It was all working for Halep as he struck an ace to get to 4-0. Williams — who led the event in aces and had hit the fastest serve so far — didn’t hit an ace until set two.

Halep’s first unforced error incredibly came at 5-1, 15-0 — a forehand into the net — but it certainly didn’t put her off.

Two points later summarized the opener.

Williams crushed a backhand cross court. Maybe not expecting it to come back, even from the speedy Halep, it did, and Williams’ backhand reply landed in the net for one of her 26 unforced errors.

There were few moments for Serena Williams to celebrate during a comprehensive defeat.
Source: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images 7-13-2019

Williams was 2-8 in grand slam finals when dropping the opener — her last win came in 2005 — so it spelled trouble for the seven-time champion.

Flawless tennis

Through five games in the second set, Halep made just one unforced error.

Yes, she continued to be stingy.

Halep dug out from 15-30 at 0-1, then broke for 3-2 when Williams put a backhand long.

A seemingly simple point for some with Halep out of position, but the 27-year-old’s tenacity throughout could have prompted the miss.

“I think I was over-hitting, trying to go for too much,” said Williams. “She was just getting a tremendous amount of balls back.”

Halep then saved the next game from 15-30 to get to 4-2 and broke again for 5-2.

Williams’ serve finally clicked to prolong that game but when they were embroiled in baseline rallies, Halep won the majority of the points, mirroring the match.

And a first Wimbledon title was officially hers when Williams’ forehand found the net.

Halep sunk to her knees and took it all in for a second.

Her display was one for the ages.

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More tennis news from the Associated Press:

Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah became the first Colombians to win a Grand Slam men’s doubles title, beating France’s Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-3 in a Wimbledon final that lasted just under 5 hours and concluded under the Centre Court roof.

The retractable cover was closed after the fourth set, which finished at about 8 p.m. after the teams had been playing for more than 4 hours.

The match went on so long that the women’s doubles final that was supposed to follow in the tournament’s main stadium was postponed until Sunday.

Mahut was visited by a doctor after getting hit in the face by a ball in the early going. He also went down in the fifth set after taking a ball to the body.

Mahut is no stranger to extended matches: He played in the longest match in tennis history — an 11-hour, 3-minute loss to John Isner in Wimbledon’s first round of singles in 2010 that stretched over three days and finished 70-68 in the fifth set.

Wimbledon introduced deciding-set tiebreakers this year, using them at 12-all.

Mahut and Roger-Vasselin were trying to win their first Grand Slam title together. Mahut has won four major doubles trophies with Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who played instead with Andy Murray at Wimbledon.


8:15 p.m.

The Wimbledon women’s doubles final has been postponed because the men’s doubles final has stretched to a fifth set.

The women’s match pitting Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova against Gabriela Dabrowski and Xu Yifan will be played Sunday instead.

That was scheduled to follow the men’s doubles final on Centre Court. But that match — Juan-Sebastian Caval and Robert Farah against Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin — was already past the 4-hour mark when it headed to a fifth set after four tiebreakers.

Darkness was approaching, so the retractable roof at Centre Court was closed, further delaying things.


4 p.m.

Daria Snigur of Ukraine won the junior girls’ title at Wimbledon, beating Alexa Noel of the United States 6-4, 6-4.

The match was played on No. 1 Court, the second biggest stadium at the All England Club.

The two also played each other on grass last week in the final of a tournament in nearby Roehampton, and Snigur won that one as well, 6-1, 6-2.

The Wimbledon win is Snigur’s first major title.

In the women’s wheelchair singles final, Aniek Van Koot won her third major title by beating Diede De Groot 6-4, 4-6, 7-5. Both players are from the Netherlands.

Van Koot won her previous two Grand Slam titles in 2013, first at the Australian Open and then at the U.S. Open.

Also, Joachim Gerard of Belgium and Stefan Olsson of Sweden won the men’s wheelchair doubles title by beating Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid of Britain 6-4, 6-2.


3:05 p.m.

Simona Halep won her first Wimbledon title and kept Serena Williams from winning her eighth.

Halep beat Williams 6-2, 6-2 on Centre Court for her second major title.

Williams was trying to win her record-equaling 24th Grand Slam singles title, but she failed in a final for the third time. Williams lost to Angelique Kerber in last year’s Wimbledon final and lost to Naomi Osaka in the championship match at the U.S. Open.

Williams still holds the record for most major singles titles in the professional era with 23, one more than Steffi Graf. But Margaret Court, who won 13 of her Grand Slam singles titles in the amateur era, has 24 overall.

Halep, who won last year’s French Open title, had only three unforced errors to Williams’ 25 in the final.


2:40 p.m.

Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, were in the Royal Box for the women’s final at Wimbledon.

The royals were joined by Kate’s sister, Pippa.

Meghan is friends with Serena Williams, who was facing Simona Halep in the final on Centre Court.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was also in the Royal Box.


2:35 p.m.

Simona Halep won the first set 6-2 against Serena Williams in the women’s Wimbledon final.

Halep dominated the seven-time Wimbledon champion from the start, breaking Williams in her first two service games and taking a 4-0 lead. At that stage, Halep had hit six winners and zero unforced errors. Williams had zero winners and nine unforced errors.

Williams’ only break point of the set came at 4-1, but she hit a forehand wide.

Halep is looking for her first Wimbledon title and second Grand Slam trophy overall. Williams has won 23 major tournaments.


1 p.m.

Top-seeded Dylan Alcott of Australia won the first quad wheelchair singles title at Wimbledon, a day after winning the doubles title.

Alcott beat doubles partner Andy Lapthorne of Britain 6-0, 6-2 in the first official singles final for the event at the All England Club.

Alcott and Lapthorne won the doubles title on Friday, beating Koji Sugeno of Japan and David Wagner of the United States 6-2, 7-6 (4).

Wheelchair tennis made its debut at Wimbledon in 2016.

Alcott became a paraplegic after a tumor was removed from his spine soon after birth, according to the Wimbledon website.


8:20 a.m.

Going for No. 24, Serena Williams will face Simona Halep in the Wimbledon final.

Williams is trying to equal the record for most Grand Slam singles titles won in tennis history. Margaret Court holds that record with 24, but 13 of her trophies came during the amateur era, while all of Williams’ have come after professionals were admitted to major tournaments in 1968.

At Wimbledon, Williams is a seven-time champion who will be playing in her 11th final. Simona Halep, a former No. 1 who won the French Open last year, will be in her first final at the All England Club.

In 10 previous matches between the two, Williams has won nine times.


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