- In the biggest match of her life, Simona Halep played incredible tennis to beat Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 and win the Wimbledon title.
WIMBLEDON, England — Well, that certainly didn't go like we thought it would.
Simona Halep served with pinpoint accuracy, chased down every ball and played the match of her life to beat Serena Williams and win the Wimbledon title. The 27-year-old Romanian was the better player from the first point—she jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead and was in firm control the entire match—and needed just 56 minutes to win her second Grand Slam title.
A Hall of Fame performance from a player who is now certain to make the Hall of Fame.
Has she ever played a better match?
"I played my best tennis ever," Halep said. "I just didn't think about what was happening, and where I am. I just wanted to be aggressive, to play my plan...it was great that I could do everything my team told me."
The scoreline wasn't terribly surprising. But the players on each side of the blowout were.
Despite being the higher seed—No. 7 to Serena's No. 11—and already being a major champion, Halep entered this match as a significant underdog. Her first Grand Slam title came last year at the French Open, where she beat another American, Sloane Stephens, in the final. But this was a different ask entirely—a tilt against the GOAT, at the Slam the GOAT has won more than any other.
She never blinked.
"She literally played out of her mind," a gracious Williams said after the match. "It was a little bit of deer in the headlights for me. When a player plays that amazing, you just kind of have to take your hat off and give them a nod of the head."
She was clear in her game plan and her intentions—yo-yo Serena around the court to take advantage of her superior movement and fitness—and executed it to perfection. She made just three unforced errors. (Three!) She seemed to always make Serena hit the extra ball. And, more often than not, Serena missed it.
And that's the other side of this story. Williams's level dropped significantly in this match. She was shaky in the opening rounds here but seemed to have played her way into top form, delivering an emphatic performance in dismantling Barbora Strycova in the semifinal.
But it was clear from the onset that Halep was playing at a different level than any of Williams's previous opponents, and Williams was not able to match that level. She won just 59% of points on her first serve—compared to 89% against Strycova—and won just 4/11 points at the net.
Of course, Halep's play has everything to do with that. But we cannot ignore the fact that Williams is now 0-3 in Grand Slam finals since she won No. 23, and you have to wonder if there is some mental scar tissue accruing. She will now head to the American hard court season, which culminates at the U.S. Open, where she will have to confront the memories of the unfortunate situation in last year's final. Being the true champion that she is, it would not be the least bit surprising to see her win that tournament. But she is, as these last three Grand Slam finals prove, human.