After a great spring and summer last year, Simona Halep lost the momentum after a back injury, finishing 2018 season earlier than expected and struggling to find her 'A game' in the first half of 2019. Halep had failed to defend the title at Roland Garros before bouncing back at Wimbledon, going all the way to becoming the first Romanian champion at the All England Club after an incredible performance against Elina Svitolina and Serena Williams whom she toppled 6-2, 6-2 in less than an hour.
Finding a perfect balance between strong defensive skills and attacking tennis that she lacked at this event in the past, Halep proved to be the player to beat and rushed home with the most significant tennis trophy in her hands.
Welcomed by fans and two Romanian legends Ilie Nastase and Ion Tiriac, Simona praised the family, coaches, Federation and fans who all gave her the energy to go all the way and write the history of the Romanian sport. As was announced, President Klaus Iohannis awarded Simona Halep the highest distinction of the Romanian state, Steaua României (Romanian Star) at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace on Tuesday, with her parents and Ilie Nastase presented at the ceremony.
Simona said it is a great honor for her, hoping to inspire kids to play tennis and achieve a lot, both in the sport and in life in general. "It is a great honor for me, recognition and appreciation of my work. I hope to inspire all the children through these results, to awake their desire and pleasure to play tennis and develop themselves as persons.
I am having a quite emotional moment now, it's harder than the Wimbledon final," said Halep. "I want to thank the people around me for having built this house, as I call my career. Each brick was very important and this is why I reached the highest level of tennis.
I thank the Romanians everywhere for their unconditional support regardless of the country where I play, also for the positive energy I receive when I return home. I'm proud to be a Romanian and I hope to go everywhere with head held up high and win as many trophies as possible to be an inspiration for all the kids, hoping they all get opportunities and the best possible conditions for us to have as many champions as possible in the future."