"It was not a sacrifice...I lived for it...I did what I love," Simona Halep had said after winning her first Wimbledon career title over Serena Williams in straight sets. The idea of Halep landing in the 2019 Wimbledon final might have been a dream come true for her mom, but for the no.
7 player in the world, it was hard work that eventually paid off. The start of the season was very busy for Simona Halep. She had two coach changes, a few final appearances made and had defeated many top players as Ashleigh Barty, Petra Kvitova, and Johanna Konta to name a few.
She had gotten to the fourth round of the Australian Open and the quarterfinal at Roland Garros but was edged out by the rising American player Amanda Anisimova. Halep also went deep into the Madrid Open but couldn't sharpen her game enough and fell to Kiki Bertens in the final.
She had admitted that grass wasn't her thing, preferring clay where she could slide and make better shot selections on. One warm-up for the grass season at Eastbourne was what Halep had but was stopped in the quarterfinals by Angelique Kerber.
She had even played doubles, making it to the semis with partner Raluca Olaru. Wimbledon was the next big thing and she had her reservations on how she would do. Was she well prepared to tackle her opponents at the grassy slam? She knew by staying focused and determined should prove successful and she steadily honed her skills during practice and displayed them in real court time matches.
She'd play and won over Victoria Azarenka. The aspiring 15-year-old Coco Gauff was another opponent who she was able to match shot for shot with and won the round of 16 taking her down in straight sets. She pushed on reaching the semifinal with Elina Svitolina and won over her to get to her 3rd final of the season and first Wimbledon career final.
The competitive match with her Ukrainian opponent had Halep giving credit to say "..she didn't give up a point and the rallies were very long and powerful...I had to be there and I had to be strong and today I think again one of the best matches on grass."
She found out that her final opponent would be Serena Williams who defeated her in the fourth round at the Australian Open and had outnumbered her head-to-head with wins. "I have learned that I have the chance to win against her...now I feel stronger mentally facing her and we will see what's going to happen.
It's just a big challenge for me," Halep had admitted about her final with Serena. The Saturday women's finale was monumental and a test for both players. Serena Williams made it to the Wimbledon final without ever having a grass tournament warmup.
Simona Halep had only Eastbourne to get used to the grass surface. The first set proved her confidence about game strategies and playing on the terrain. She was the aggressive opponent who quickly climbed her game up to 4-0 before anyone in the sold-out crowd would even go out for refreshments.
Williams had tried keeping up with Halep and their rallies were stinging, but she was only allowed to put a few games on the scoreboard, with the Romanian coming up with most of the answers and winning the first set 6-2. The second set was composed of many fast-paced rallies and Serena seemed like she was getting her 'mojo' back as she enjoyed a 2-1 lead.
Unfortunately, that was her only game advancements in the set. Halep leveled the games and seen that Williams was starting to make more unforced errors than victory points as she continued with her super aggressive play on Serena.
She kept the pressure on her multi titled opponent until the end of the match where Williams netted a returned serve resulting in Halep winning the set and match 6-2, 6-2. "I love grass now," Simona had said to Tennis Channel's commentator Brett Haber after winning the title.
"It was the best match. I worked a lot for this moment, " she emphasized. Williams was briefly interviewed by the BBC Commentator and retired WTA player Sue Barker. Serena gave Halep credit laughingly saying "She really played out of her mind."
But when Barker interviewed Halep she gave her critique on her demeanor on court saying "you showed no sign of nerves" The Romanian giggled and confessed that her stomach was giving her a bit of trouble before the match, but once on court her confidence grew and she knew she would do well.
Simona Halep ends her grass season on a beautiful note of winning her first Wimbledon tournament. She goes happily into the hard court season self-assured and hopeful that her consistency will continue throughout the end of this 2019 season.