Simona Halep's staggering act in wake of Wimbledon 'disgrace'
Snubbed from centre court for her first-round match, Simona Halep has now made it back-to-back emphatic victories on the main arena at Wimbledon.
Fans labelled it a 'disgrace' when Halep wasn't chosen to open centre court at the All England Club early last week, with World No.1 Iga Swiatek getting the nod instead.
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Wimbledon tradition dictates that the defending champion plays the first match on centre court the following year, but with Ash Barty now retired, Wimbledon organisers had to choose someone else.
Many (including Barty) suggested that 2019 champion Halep should get the honour because she missed out when Wimbledon was cancelled in 2020 and injury prevented her from playing the grass-court grand slam in 2021.
But Wimbledon organisers sparked outrage when they opted to go with Swiatek, who went on to make the third round before losing to Alize Cornet.
Despite the snub, Halep has shown she belongs on centre court after a crushing victory over Amanda Anisimova on Wednesday to advance to the semi-finals.
The Romanian has warned her rivals she's playing her best tennis since last winning Wimbledon three years ago as she homes in menacingly on lifting the Venus Rosewater dish once again.
The 16th seed sounded like a woman whose tennis life is beginning again at 30 after dismantling one of the WTA tour's young guns 6-2 6-4.
Halep said she felt emotional to be back in the last-four after some difficult days since she rocketed to the title at SW19 in 2019 with a career-defining demolition of Serena Williams.
She effectively dismantled Anisimova in the same fashion on centre court, dominating until a late fightback from the 20-year-old American gave her a few jitters near the finish line before she booked her semi-final date with Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina.
"I'm very emotional right now, because it means a lot to be back in the semis," Halep said after winning her 12th match in a row at Wimbledon in a run that stretches back to 2019.
Simona Halep playing best tennis at Wimbledon
After the 2020 tournament was abandoned because of the pandemic and she missed last year's edition with a calf injury, Halep is seemingly making up for lost time.
The 30-year-old hasn't dropped a set and conceded just 28 games en route to the last four.
"I struggled a lot last year," Halep said, "And now I'm just trying to build my confidence back."
Tunisian World No.2 Ons Jabeur features in the other semi-final, up against her great friend Tatjana Maria.
But Halep reckons she's back to her best as she prepares to tackle Kazakhstan's first-ever women's semi-finalist Rybakina, the 17th seed who outstayed Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6 6-2 6-3.
"I'm very emotional right now, because it means a lot to be back in the semis," Halep said.
"It's definitely the best tennis I've played since 2019 when I won here. The tennis is here, I just have to believe."
Anisimova went for broke - and broke - as Halep served for the match at 5-2.
The American then earned three more break points at 5-4, but fine serving came to Halep's aid as she won five points in a row to take the match in just 63 minutes.
"She could crush the ball in the end, and I didn't know, actually, what to do," Halep said.
"But I just believed in myself. I said that I have to stay there, strong on my legs."
Her victory over Anisimova made it back-to-back demolition jobs on centre court after she blitzed World No.4 Paula Badosa 6-1 6-2 in the fourth round.
Not bad for a player who wasn't worthy of opening proceedings on centre court.
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