From 128 players to 2, replete with upsets, comebacks, and several cinderellas, the women’s draw at Wimbledon 2019 has not disappointed, and now comes the biggest moment of all.
Simona Halep versus Serena Williams. One, a familiar face this decade atop the WTA rankings, yet only able to taste grand slam success on one occasion, the other a familiar face this century winning, well… everything, hoping she can do it one more time.
So who will win this one? Read on for our look at the 2019 Wimbledon Women’s Singles Final.
Simona Halep (ROU)  v Serena Williams (USA) 
For Halep, a win here would represent a notable turnaround from her recent results. World number one through this year’s Aussie Open, the Romanian is still yet to win a title in 2019, and has seen her ranking fall to seventh as a result. To end that winless streak with a major title – on her (supposed) least-favourite surface, no less – would be quite the feat, with the added caveat of bringing her within 700 points of the top spot in the rankings.
For Serena, it’s as it was at Wimbledon ’18, as it was at the US Open, and again here this year: it’s all about number 24. A win draws her level with Margaret Court for most women’s singles major titles, and only further reiterates what we already know: she’s the GOAT. As an added bonus, it would also represent her first major since giving birth and the associated health problems she had in 2017 – not that she needs it, but it would only sweeten the comeback.
Making her first Wimbledon final appearance on Saturday, it’s safe to say this is the best grass court tennis Halep has played in her life. In fact, the only set she’s dropped all tournament came against Mihaela Buzarnescu in the second round, while she managed to handily dispatch the likes of Victoria Azarenka, Coco Gauff and Elina Svitolina in relatively comfortable fashion. Clearly having Darren Cahill back in her corner (temporarily for this tournament) has worked wonders, particularly on the serve, where she is hitting it better than ever.
In comparison, it’s a bit harder to gauge where Serena stands, having yet to play any names of real significance. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t been impressive, but her semi-final demolition of Barbora Strycova was entirely to be expected, while the sets she dropped against Alison Riske (quarterfinals) and Kaja Juvan (second round) would indicate she’s far from untouchable.
There’s been much talk this fortnight about how improved Halep has been on the grass, and, well… that notion is going to be put to the ultimate test considering the history here.
Having won nine of their ten encounters, Serena comes into this match a strong favourite, even if she is not quite the all-devouring force she once was. The harsh truth for Halep is that she just can’t match the American’s firepower, and as she tends to play defensively in the first place, the result is her just chasing balls back-and-forth, if not getting hit off the court entirely. However, that doesn’t mean Halep is helpless.
As we saw in an absolutely barnstorming 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 affair at this year’s AO (won by Serena), Halep is definitely capable of causing her opponent all sorts of problems, even if on that occasion she couldn’t finish her off. What she did in Melbourne that was so effective was constantly look to change the direction of rallies, particularly by being ambitious with shots down the line, which in turn elicited weaker responses from the far-less-mobile Serena, allowing the Romanian to reset a rally she was losing, or take command decisively. Her game plan should be no different here, and if she pulls it off, Serena could be in trouble.
Of course, that’s still a big ‘if’. Serena’s greatest strength is not physical but mental – she is utterly relentless, and that tends to take its toll on all players, but especially Halep. Maybe this time will be different, but it’s not something I would bet on.
Serena in two. As great as Halep has been this tournament, on this surface, against this player, it seems she is decisively outmatched. Serena will be able to bully her opponent into submission, and that means that finally, number 24 will be hers.