Since resuming after giving birth to her daughter Olympia in 2017, Williams has lost three consecutive major finals - to Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon and Naomi Osaka at the US Open previous year and now Halep.
It's one of the oldest commandments in the tennis lexicon: Try to get that one more ball back. Sometimes she doesn't move well, but she did today.' Nobody could argue with her speed after the phenomenal display that took down Serena Williams. But she never felt quite comfortable with her footing on grass.
For Williams, the loss was especially hard as it kept her from a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title, a record only held by Australian Margaret Court.
Halep, 27, won her first championship at the All England Club in just 55 minutes, beating Williams 6-2, 6-2, in what was only her second career win against the American.
"I'm very sure that was the best match of my life", said Halep, who made just three unforced errors in the one-sided contest. It wasn't like Halep unfurled a stream of winners.
"The biggest key with our matches is the loss that I had". It's never easy but you treat it a little bit easier. She remained rock solid throughout and Williams simply could not respond.
Williams' serve was not dominating the way it often does, and she had 26 unforced errors, which Halep took advantage of nearly every time. Williams was equally erratic off wings, making 11 forehand errors and 14 with her backhand.
Now coached by fellow Romanian Daniel Dobre, Halep said winning tennis's greatest prize was a whole team effort.
Romania's Simona Halep (R) talks with her coach Darren Cahill during her women's quarter finals match against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Caja Magica, Madrid, Spain, 10 May 2018.
Halep had an answer to everything Williams threw at her and was all over the court in a spectacular performance. She ranks No. 3 on the WTA Tour with a first-serve conversion rate of 69.7%. Halep had an answer for everything she sent her way. Granted, Williams did not have a great day in any dimension, including returning.
Williams struggled to keep up with the breathless pace set by the number seven seed, finally registering a game on her own serve at the third attempt.
She joked at various points over the fortnight about wanting to become a lifetime member of the All England Club, one of the many perks that come with winning, but it was clear when she wore the membership pin in her news conference after the victory that the distinction truly meant something to her.
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