Simona Halep put in one of the performances of her life to defeat seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena William 6-2 6-2 to win her maiden crown at the All England Club.
The former world No. 1 hardly put a foot wrong in a 56-minute rout, moving magnificently and executing perfectly from so many perillous positions.
Williams threw everything she had at the 27-year-old – who is 10 years her junior – but in her late 30s there continue to be question marks over whether her best is enough anymore as she relentlessly pursues Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record..
Many will no doubt question whether nerves got the better of the American great, in what was now a third final defeat since returning from pregnancy – putting herself in those positions alone deserves great credit – and it is possible to attribute her four-game losing streak at the beginning of the match down to butterflies.
But, in truth, this win in front of a star-studded crowd including royal duo Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton and outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May was more about Halep’s brilliance than any great failing at the other end of the net.
Halep has struggled to reproduce the form that saw her win the 2018 French Open but had spoken of a new-found love for grass during this tournament.
She played as if she had spent her formative years on the surface. As she closed it out, she fell to her knees, showing just how much this latest triumph meant to her.
In all eight of Williams’ previous Grand Slam losses she had lost the first set and there was a sense Halep needed to become the frontrunner if she was to enjoy any success in this final.
Last year’s winner Angelique Kerber enjoyed great succcess by acting as a human backboard, drawing the errors from the 23-time major winner and it was a tactic that produced for Halep in the opening game.
The longer the rallies, the more Williams was likely to break down. Halep – one of the best movers in the sport – had no problem springing attack from defence as she broke.
A second break arrived in the third game. Halep drew the loudest roar from the crowd as she showed phenomenal speed to recover from a powerful Williams forehand out wide to bounce back and thump an angled backhand winner home.
Another backhand winner up the line secured the break and a 3-0 lead by the eight-minute mark. Williams may possess the biggest serve in the women’s game and she finally held for 1-4, with the crowd desperately urging her to make at least a fist out of it.
The American duly responded, finding her range and pummelling the ball at the Romanian but she continued to come up with the answers, sending a stunning forehand winner past Williams to move one game away from the opening set.
A member of the crowd shouted ‘Serena, wake up’ as Halep began to serve for the opener and although she became louder in her screams, she found no way through her resolute opponent.
It had been some 14 years since Williams recovered from a set down to win a Grand Slam final and the volume continued to rise at the start of the second.
Williams bent over and roared into the turf after stretching to volley home at the end of another remarkable rally.
But Halep did not allow Williams’ mind games to create doubt in her own thought process. She broke twice, the second time with a clean backhand winner down the line and made no mistake in seeing out one of the two finest wins of her life.