As the women's final at Wimbledon approached, most experts predicted that Serena Williams would overcome Simona Halep to win the title and equal Margaret Court's record Grand Slam singles title count of 24.
Williams has now lost her past three grand slam finals and admitted what was once a habit has become something much harder to reach. 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.
Not this time. Halep had lost nine of her 10 matches against Williams but on Friday she spent 30 minutes practising her returns, knowing that she had to face down the American's barrage to have any chance of getting into the match.
Halep has won one Grand Slam before, triumphing in the 2018 French Open. The last time that happened was in 1986, when Steffi Graf won her first 7 titles in a single year.
Williams was responding to a question from a journalist who told her tennis legend Billie Jean King suggested the 23-time major victor should stop trying to be a "celebrity" and concentrate on winning matches.
Wimbledon 2019: Serena Williams’ coach warns her about ‘dangerous’ Simona Halep
But she got off to a nightmare start as Halep broke twice to race into a 4-0 lead. It was a little bit "a deer in the headlights" for me", Williams said.
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It's the second time the Duchess of Cambridge has worn this particular dress, the first was for a visit to Canada in 2016. So, obviously, Serena would be happy if Meghan continued to ignore the hate on social media and attended her matches.
After falling in her last two major finals, at Wimbledon previous year and the US Open soon after, it seemed like Williams had finally hit her stride after coming back from a complicated childbirth and maternity leave. At age four, Simona saw her older brother playing tennis and she picked up a racket to be just like him!
"I don't know if there's anything I could have done differently [today]", she said after the loss. Serena sprayed a forehand error in the first game of the match to give serve away, finding herself 2-0 down when Simona held at love in game two with a backhand error and allowing the Romanian to grab another break with a backhand down the line victor. "That's why I was able to play my best, to be relaxed, and to be able to be positive and confident against her".
Halep had previously said she hoped members of the Royal Family would be in the stands to watch her match, and was thrilled she finds out Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton were in attendance. "I really thank them", she said. In the 2017 championship match, she blew a 6-4, 3-0 lead to Jelena Ostapenko and it seemed she couldn't get over the proverbial hump. This is not the kind of background din you need when trying to win a Grand Slam. But she never felt quite comfortable with her footing on grass. Because if you listen to him, you get the good things. "I'm just now starting to use my legs again". You can get nervous, too nervous. I just go out there and play, see what happens.
"If anything, I could just learn to be like that".