LONDON – Simona Halep says her previous failures in grand slam finals and a maiden success at Roland Garros last year helped drive her win against Serena Williams at Wimbledon on Saturday.
In her fifth showpiece final, Halep demolished the 23-time major winner Williams 6-2, 6-2 in 55 minutes on Centre Court but before then came some hardships.
The 27-year-old Romanian lost two French Open finals in 2014 and 2017 before again being defeated in an epic battle with Caroline Wozniacki at the 2018 Australian Open.
"The finals I lost in the past helped me for sure to be different when I faced this moment (at Wimbledon)," said Halep.
"It's never easy to face a Grand Slam final. You can get intimidated by the moment. You can get nervous, too nervous."
However, Halep would soon get her hands on a major when she finally became a grand slam champion in Paris when she triumphed on the French Open clay against Sloane Stephens.
It was a huge weight off Halep's shoulders, who was then ranked the world number one, and even though she learned to relax more in big career moments, the hunger for more grand slam glory remained.
"I was motivated after I won the first one in French Open that there is another chance for one more," said Halep.
"That's why I was able to win this tournament now in this moment. Once you win one, you treat it a little bit easier."
As the hunger and belief in her own ability grew after winning a championship in France, the pressure bestowed on Halep entering her first Wimbledon final against seven-time champion Williams subsided.
"I have learned that it's a normal match, not thinking that much about the trophy, just going there and try to be the best as you can," Halep said.
Halep also had to believe she could conquer the grass, which she admitted in previous rounds of the tournament, she was uncomfortable with.
"Thinking that is a possibility to win on grass, it was tough to believe because we don't even have a grass court in Romania," she said.
"But I knew if we be patient and if we work hard, we get the feeling of the grass court. I did it pretty well."
By winning her second grand slam at Wimbledon, Halep became the first Romanian player to win the tournament.
The closest previous compatriot was Ilie Nastase, who lost the 1972 men's final to Stan Smith.
When asked what her win would mean to the country, Halep said: "French Open is better known because another two players won it from Romania. It's clay. We grow up on clay.
"But Wimbledon, I think it's very special for every country. Here the tennis was born, it makes it more special."
Halep was understandably emotional on Wimbledon's hallowed turf after what she described as the 'best match of my life.'
But one person she really wanted to win the Venus Rosewater Dish for was her mother, whose lifelong ambition was to play in a Wimbledon final, let alone win it.
"She was crying," said Halep when asked what her mother's reaction was.
"I hugged her and I kissed her. I knew she's very emotional."
One piece of advice Halep is keen to listen to again is Roger Federer's words of wisdom.
After beating Rafael Nadal to enter the men's final, his advice to Halep was, "You have to have that winner mentality, that I belong here, I've earned my way here."
Halep received those comments and said she will take them on board for future reference in more grand slam finals.
"His words made me happy," said Halep. "Also I really believe that there is a chance if I listen to him. Because if you listen to him, you get the good things."dpa