Serena Williams went into the Wimbledon finals on Saturday hoping to secure her 24th Grand Slam singles title - an accomplishment that would have equaled the record set by Margaret Court in the 1970s.
In just 26 minutes, Halep had a near-flawless first set, taking it 6-2 from the 37-year-old superstar. The first one came in 2014.
Time and again, Williams went for broke on her shots, eager to end the rally, only to watch in near disbelief as Halep chased down a ball that would have been a victor against many other opponents. You can get intimidated by the moment.More news: Tropical Storm Barry tracks northward; What that means for the Arklatex
There is no doubt Williams is a supreme athlete considering she has made it to three Grand Slam finals since suffering multiple complications following the birth of her daughter in September 2017, but the near misses will irritate her.
"It's something very special and I will never forget this day because it was my mom's dream when I was about 10", Halep said. She got here by bulldozing past Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals, showing off conditioning and shot-making she hadn't previously displayed this year. "I wish she would just make a commitment for the next year and a half to two years and say, I'm going to absolutely focus on what's necessary for my tennis, so when I look in the mirror when I'm older, then I can go back in my mind and know I gave it everything I had". At times she looked overcome with the pressure and the weight of the record books. "Today", she said. "I'm very honest".
"Feels good", Halep smiled as she tapped her newly minted, purple All England Club members' badge. "I didn't think about the score at all".
"The finals I lost in the past helped me for sure to be different when I face this moment", Halep said.More news: Digital Tax Passed In France Is Aimed At U.S. Tech Giants
Sooner or later the record will come, but Serena is at the third consecutive defeat in a Slam final. She didn't merely play defense, though, managing to go from retrieving an apparent point-ending stroke by Williams to lashing a victor of her own in a blink. I knew she's very emotional.
"I had nerves", she said in front of 15,000 fans on Centre Court while clutching the trophy.
King later tweeted to clarify her views, saying she supported the work Williams did to push for equality. "Once you win one, you treat it a little bit easier". You can get too nervous. John McEnroe, who had backed Williams before the final, said, "this wasn't even a match".
"I decided before the match that I'm going to focus on myself and on the final of Grand Slam, not on her", said Halep, 27. "I just told her that we'll talk later".More news: Google’s News tab gets a more transparent redesign