July 11, 2020
Simona Halep was determined to be positive when she heard she couldn’t defend her Wimbledon title this year.
‘I’ll be champion for two years instead of one,’ she smiled.
She’s not wrong. She can enjoy her finest hour for even longer than she had anticipated.
Halep will still hold the women’s singles title going into Wimbledon 2021.
In a way it is fitting. Her performance against Serena Williams this time last year was nothing short of outstanding.
Her victory speech was one of the best in recent memory too.
She charmed us with her almost childish delight at becoming a Wimbledon member.
She brought a tear to our eye when she talked about making her mother’s dream come true.
The women’s final is so often underrated. It is always a thrilling occasion. Wimbledon 2021 will be no different.
Superhuman performances are required in the fight for the title.
So often Serena is there. Always a formidable opponent. Recently just one step from equalling Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slams.
Her presence means you are witnessing something moving. Her history and Wimbledon’s history are both formidable.
Many considered Serena to be the favourite on Final Saturday twelve months ago.
We didn’t share that opinion at WDH. But we understood it. After all, Serena was the multiple Wimbledon title winner.
She had only lost once to Simona in their previous ten contests.
Halep had always flattered to deceive on grass. But there was something different about 2019.
Something clicked. Once she had negotiated the tricky early rounds, she looked entirely comfortable on the pristine lawns of Wimbledon.
She swept aside the likes of rising star Coco Gauff and the impressive Elina Svitolina with surprising ease.
At last, Halep felt at home. And she was already regarded as one of the finest tennis players in the world.
Strangely there was no pressure on Simona. She wasn’t expected to beat Serena in a Wimbledon final.
Williams had enjoyed the winning habit at the All England Club for decades. She is the best there has ever been.
She towered over Halep on the big occasion. But we knew the weight of history and expectation would be formidable opponents for Serena too.
As for Halep, she had already battled her nerves and dismissed them. That fight had been won even before she stepped out.
Simona explained later: ‘I had nerves. My stomach was not very well before the match.
‘But I had no time for emotions and just came out and tried my best.’
What an understatement! She was so good that even seasoned campaigners such as the great John McEnroe were marvelling at Halep’s movement and determination.
McEnroe struggled to remember anything like it. The returns were incredible. Simona was running down lost causes and winning the points.
‘She played out of her mind,’ Serena said later.
‘I’m sure it was the best match of my life,’ Halep admitted proudly. ‘Also on grass against her is never easy.’
If you beat Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in a Wimbledon final, you are practically guaranteed to have played the best match of your life.
And there was only one thing as good as that swashbuckling display from Simona. Her victory speech.
First she made people laugh as she revealed how much she treasured one the little-known perks of winning the title.
Halep explained: ‘When I started the tournament, I told the people from the locker room that my dream is to become a member here. So today it’s real and I’m really happy.’
That was pure gold to hear. Never mind the money and a Slam. Wimbledon membership was the real prize.
Then she made people cry by talking about her mother. Simona revealed of her final victory: ‘It was my mum’s dream when I was about ten. And the day came and my mum is here to see it.’
How we all applauded and cherished those moments.
No one could have known back then that Simona Halep would be denied the opportunity to defend her title this year.
But after winning best performance and best speech too, maybe she deserved her extra year as champion. The membership card will still be valid next year.
And who knows? Halep might just come back and win it all over again at Wimbledon 2021!