Simona Halep won her first Wimbledon title and crushed Serena Williams’ latest bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam success with a devastating 56-minute display of athleticism.
The Romanian won 6-2 6-2 in front of an incredulous Centre Court, running after everything the American threw at her.
“It was my best match,” the 27-year-old said after her second Grand Slam title following her 2018 French Open success.
For 37-year-old Williams, it was a third major final defeat in 12 months.
“She played out of her mind, it was a little bit deer in the headlights for me,” she said.
Halep shows no nerves as expectation weighs on Williams
Williams, like in last year’s final defeat by Angelique Kerber, seemed weighed down by public and personal expectations as she quickly fell 4-0 behind in the opening set.
Halep had said beforehand that she had no pressure on her and that is exactly how she played.
From the outset she looked relaxed and confident, attacking the Williams serve and keeping the rallies long and deep to force the American into errors.
While Williams closed her eyes at changeovers to try to regroup, Halep kept her eyes on the prize and kept her cool to take the victory on her second match point, when the American sent a forehand into the net.
Halep’s level never dropped in an almost perfect display in which she made just three unforced errors to Williams’ 26.
“I knew that I have to be aggressive, be 100% for every ball, and that I don’t have to let her come back into the match because she’s so powerful and so strong,”
“She knows how to manage every moment. So I knew that I have to stay there, which I did pretty well today.”
Defeat means Williams’ wait for a first Grand Slam title since becoming a mum continues, as does her pursuit of an eighth Wimbledon singles title.
“I definitely knew that she was just playing her heart out,” the American said. “I felt like, OK, what do I need to do to get to that level?
“When someone plays lights out, there’s really not much you can do. You just have to understand that that was their day today.”
The stats around Halep’s brilliant victory
- Halep won 83% of her first-serve points, compared to 59% for Williams
- Williams made 26 unforced errors, while Halep made just three
- Williams had more winners – 17 – than Halep (13), but Halep won 45% of receiving points compared to 26% for Williams
- Halep had lost nine of her previous 10 meetings with Williams
- Halep has now won the past two Grand Slam finals she has appeared in, having been defeated in the three before that. Williams has lost her past three
- Although 56 minutes is a quick victory, it is some way off the fastest Grand Slam final win – Steffi Graf’s 34-minute French Open win of 1988
- Halep, who began the championships as world number seven, will rise to number four when the next rankings are published on Monday