Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon reviews the 2019 Wimbledon women’s final.
In one fell swoop, Romanian Simona Halep rewrote her legacy.
While the entire world was awaiting the triumph of Serena Williams and her landmark 24th Grand Slam title, it’s Halep who stood tall and emerged victorious with a win in identical 6-2 sets and in a mere 56 minutes.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 13, 2019
The Romanian, first of her country to ever capture the Wimbledon title, knew she had finished a pretty perfect afternoon on the tennis courts at the All-England Lawn Tennis Club. “I’m very sure that was the best match of my life, and also on grass against her is never easy,” she said after the win. “So I’m really proud of my game of today and the whole tournament.”
This win against Williams was Halep’s second in 11 previous matches, though you wouldn’t have known this judging from the result of this final. “I knew that I have to be aggressive,” she said, “that I don’t have to let her come back to 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.”
She did do things pretty well today, indeed, and now she’s managed to join the exclusive winners club at Wimbledon.
Today I dared to dream… and my dream came true!
— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) July 13, 2019
The win gives the 27-year-old another Grand Slam title in what’s now her second straight major final win after capturing the 2018 Roland-Garros nod a little over a year ago.
In doing so, Halep continues her career reinvention. Lest we forget, after taking the tennis world by storm first in 2013, the Romanian steadily climbed through the ranks until she made it to the very top of the WTA rankings.
The date was October 9, 2017, and Halep seemingly had it all then: the ranking, the handful of titles, the youth, the overall game to play on just about every surface.
She had it all except for the one thing that matters most in the eyes of some—Halep still hadn’t won a Grand Slam and, like, how can you be the best player in the world like your ranking suggests when you have never performed the best on the biggest stage in the world?
This was the book on Halep. She was winning seemingly everywhere but what did Premier titles really mean if she kept losing in the first week at Grand Slam events over and over and over? Not only that, but when Halep did finally break through and make it to the mountaintop of a major event at the 2014 and 2017 French Open, and the 2018 Australian Open, she couldn’t close the deal.
Halep was a great player but she shied away from the limelight and the big moments, and some folks thought we were merely seeing a redux of Caroline Wozniacki’s reign—as if being no. 1 in women’s tennis for 67 weeks in a row like Wozniacki was, was somehow easy to accomplish.
But now in 2019, things have changed for her. Halep is right back in the thick of things, having beaten and thoroughly dominated the best player in the history of the sport and in the process she might have contributed to ending the Naomi Osaka reign before it ever really got started. She’s now got two Grand Slam titles to her name and has pushed her major finals record to 2-3, which is pretty great—both for the two titles and for having made it to five finals in the first place.
She’s a Wimbledon champion, and nothing will ever change that.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 14, 2019
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG