On Saturday women’s final occupied just 56 minutes. So was this an underwhelming return on tickets that started at £185 per seat? In fact, it was a privilege to be on Centre Court to watch Simona Halep, a dedicated and enormously likeable athlete, deliver the performance of her life. In 93 points, she shot only three unforced errors, and you could argue whether the third of those was an un-returned second serve. that should even count. It was the cleanest match played in a Wimbledon final since IBM started cataloguing these statistics in 1998.
A 6-2, 6-2 victory over Serena Williams had made this sound like a forgettable occasion. But the passion of the 15,000 on Centre Court has rarely reached higher levels.
I definitely felt the support and the love,” said a philosophical Williams at her post-match press conference, when asked about Wimbledon’s veneration for her and her near contemporary Roger Federer. “I appreciated it. I wanted to do better. I don’t think my opponent wanted me to do better today, so…
“But it’s cool. Yeah, no matter which way you look at it, we’re not going to be out here in the next three, four, five years. The time is now to get out there and to watch us play, I guess.”
Another reason for the noisiness of the crowd – who offered a standing ovation at the end – was that this was a primary-colours sort of match-up. Weight of shot on one side, fleet-footed mobility on the other. Big country versus small. Unabashed celebrity against shy player. It’s hard to say how well the Wimbledon faithful know Halep, but they recognised her intensity from the second point, when she whipped a forehand pass across the bows of the onrushing Williams.