Simona Halep showed the world she can beat anyone on any surface when she beat Serena Williams 6-2 6-2 in the 2019 Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Final.
It was a real statement win, the kind that says to every other player, ‘This is how good I am. What are you going to do about it?”
It was also the perfect response to Ashleigh Barty’s French Open triumph and ascension to World No.1 because it enabled the Romanian to demonstrate to the Australian that she will be a major threat to her new-found status.
However, if Halep is thinking about it in those terms, she is hiding it well. Ever since she won her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros last year, the Romanian has cut a far more relaxed figure on the tour.
She smiles more than she used to. She jokes with reporters during press conferences. And she is surprisingly upbeat when she loses, when previously she would have looked devastated.
Halep has also changed her demeanour on court. While she used to admonish herself when she did things wrong, now she just puts it out of her mind and focuses on the next point. She stays calm and does not let match situations overwhelm her like they often did in the past.
When you put all these things together, the picture you get is of a top sportswoman totally at ease with herself. It as though she has found her zen, and it really suits her.
Calm Halep produces her best tennisEmbed from Getty Images
Edmund Hillary famously said, “It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” And when you watch Halep play at the moment, it seems like that is exactly what she has done.
There is so much certainty in the Romanian’s tennis right now. She is scurrying around the court with purpose, striking the ball very cleanly and competing better than anyone.
These attributes have never been better exhibited than in the Wimbledon final against Williams. Halep utterly dominated the American. She returned superbly, pulled off extraordinary shots from awkward positions and found fantastic angles in trademark style.
It was wonderful to watch the Romanian at the top of her game, and it is hard to imagine anyone beating her if she plays that well. She has so much skill, so much speed and so much agility that it is very hard for anyone to match her – even a 23-time Grand Slam champion.
Halep’s success at SW19 is even more impressive when you consider that the tournament was played on grass – the surface virtually every tennis expert thought was her weakest.
That is surely not the case anymore. The Romanian has added mastery of lawn tennis to her prowess on clay and hard courts and no title is beyond her now.