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July 11, 2019
Wimbledon, London, England
S. HALEP/E. Svitolina
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. If this is you chilling, what are you going to be like when you put your mind to it?
SIMONA HALEP: I explained this few days ago. 'Chilling', it doesn't mean that I'm not working hard or I'm not focused on what I have to do. It's just that as a person I want to chill. We see that I'm better on court.
Q. In the long rallies you came out on top time and time again. It's impossible to out-grind you. How did you feel out there today?
SIMONA HALEP: After the first game, I was a little bit tired. Then the second game came same. The third game I couldn't play any more and I lost it fast.
But she was really strong. She didn't give up a point. The rallies were very long and very powerful, as well. It was really tough to stay there.
But I knew that I was actually prepared against her to fight for every ball. I played many times against her, and I knew that she doesn't let the rhythm low.
I had to be there, I had to be strong. Today I think it was, again, one of the best matches on grass.
Q. What have you learned about yourself in the matches you've lost to Serena Williams?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I played many matches against her. Many of them were very close.
I have learned that I have the chance. Now, if I face her, I will believe that I have my chance to win against her. Of course, I respect a lot what she has done and what she's doing.
But now I feel stronger mentally facing her. We will see what is going to happen. It's just a big challenge for me.
Q. She's one of many great champions' names who have won the Wimbledon championship. Who are some of the names who have inspired you and what have they meant to you?
SIMONA HALEP: She was one of them because seeing a player that is able to win so many Grand Slams, also here on the grass, means a lot for everyone, for us.
Also, Justine Henin inspired me. I think she won here, right?
SIMONA HALEP: Everything is possible. That's why I started to believe more that even if I play on grass, I have my chance to win.
Q. Serena is playing very powerful at the minute. Anything you learned today that you could use in the final to maybe slow her down a bit?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't want to focus on that. I want to focus on what I can do better. So I have few things that I want to do better in the next round - I need to do better.
But at least I'm in the final, so I will not put pressure on myself. I just want to plan what I have to play in the final, then to enjoy.
Q. What are the things you want to do better?
SIMONA HALEP: I don't tell you (smiling). I can't say.
Q. You're from Constanta. Most of the top players have generally come from Bucharest.
SIMONA HALEP: The champions are coming from Constanta. Trust me. Pavel, many...
Q. Talk about the area you grow up in and the culture. I gather it's ethnically different from the rest of Romania.
SIMONA HALEP: I think just the air from the beach. We train a lot on the beach when we are kids. I did many trainings on the sand and also in the water of the sea. I don't know what is there.
But also the coaches are great. We have a nice tennis school there. I don't really know why, but we have many.
We have Tecau, who is number one in doubles. Pavel, George Cosac. All the champions are coming from Constanta. And I hope my niece, too.
Q. How do you feel you've improved on grass over the years?
SIMONA HALEP: I changed a little bit the game. I play some dropshots. I use the slice more. The serve is helping me. As I said few days ago, now when the ball is coming to me, now I know what to do with it. Maybe that's why. Maybe I feel confident and I'm not scared any more of how the ball bounces. I think I have the feeling. And also I feel stable on the legs, which is very important on the grass.
Q. Apologies for this question.
SIMONA HALEP: Why you ask then?
Q. I've seen that you follow two people on Twitter, one of them is Mark Selby. Are you a snooker fan? How did that come about?
SIMONA HALEP: I apologize. I say that I have no idea how snooker -- how you play snooker. But I appreciate him. He's been in Romania a few times. I met him. Also I have a snooker ball signed from him. That's why I follow him.
Q. With more and more exposure as you get into deeper stages of the slam, you have more of an opportunity to be a role model. What does that mean to you?
SIMONA HALEP: Responsibility also. I think it's the most important thing. Now I change a little bit the attitude so I'm more positive. It's good for the kids to see only positive things on the court.
I had many role models when I was a kid. I think these people are inspiring us. It's good thing. I'm really proud and honored to know that I am a role model for the kids.
Q. You reached the semifinal here in 2014, sprained your ankle. What do you remember from that? How does it feel to have gone further now?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, that match was really tough because I was not 100% after that injury. But I'm not taking the negative from that match. I just took the positive. I was able to do semis five years ago.
Now being in the same position, I knew that I have a better chance because I'm a better person. That's why I was very confident today.
Q. You've now made the final of three of the four Grand Slams, all three surfaces. What does that say about you as a player and what does it say about you in terms of your development as a player?
SIMONA HALEP: Well, as a player I can say that I have a better game in these days. I can play everywhere, against anyone. It's good that I have, like, more plans. When I go on court and face an opponent, I know how to play against her. Also I know how to change some things when doesn't work very well.
As a person, I'm trying just to be confident, to be positive. I'm working hard to do the best always when I step on the court.
Actually, I talked to my mom after the match. About 10, 15 years ago she said her dream is to play final in Wimbledon because everyone is here, the Royal Box. She said I think it's an unbelievable moment. So today her dream came true, so I will play a final.
It's very special this moment. To be able to play Wimbledon final, it's pretty amazing. I will enjoy for sure. Doesn't matter what surface is.
Q. Your friend, Ion Tiriac, said once to me that in tennis could be helpful to don't think too much.
SIMONA HALEP: I've heard that many times (smiling).
Q. In my opinion, your 'problem' was that I think you are very clever, you think a lot. How did you change this way to be and when? What happened? Did you go to a psychologist to learn something? For me is the most important thing you did.
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I started to learn how to keep the things simple because I overcomplicated everything in my head. I was thinking too much, as you said. Sometimes I had too many options how to play, and I didn't pick the right one in the right moment.
Darren helped me a lot with this. He always told me that I have to keep the things simple. He showed me how to do, which was great.
I was working with a psychologist since almost two years now. Also she tried to make me understand myself and to accept everything I do wrong on court, and to work on those things, which helped me a lot as well.
Also Mr. Tiriac, of course, he's by my side since 2014. All the time he told me that I have just to play as it comes, like instinctual, not thinking that much.
So these person were great to me. Also they helped me to make me stronger and less thinking, which is the most important thing.
Q. Alexis, are you still working with her?
SIMONA HALEP: Yes.
Q. She said when you won the French, you never have to doubt yourself again. Is that how you feel?
SIMONA HALEP: If she said that? Yes.
Q. Do you feel that?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah (smiling).
Q. In your off-court interview, you said you don't give up any more. Talk about when you felt that changed.
SIMONA HALEP: Long time ago. I think after that moment in Miami with Darren, 2017, I started to change myself, to fight for every ball no matter the result and the score. So I did that since then.
Q. Serena is edging towards victory. If she reaches this final, she'll be obviously going after Margaret Court's record. How desperate are you to make her wait a bit longer for that?
SIMONA HALEP: I'm desperate to win Wimbledon more than to stop her. I will focus on myself. I'm not thinking about her record. Of course, is huge. Her records are huge already.
Yeah, is nothing about that. It's just a tennis match, big challenge, a great match. So I will try just to give my best.
Q. Speaking of Serena, obviously you played in Australia. I know you were not 100% with your preparation. She was also rounding into form. It was a tough match. How much did that early test kind of maybe recalibrate or reset in your mind how well you were prepared for this season? What do you take out of that match into Saturday if you play Serena?
SIMONA HALEP: I take the positive and also the disappointment that I couldn't win that match. It was really important at that point. But still, I played a good tennis even if I was not 100% prepared to start the Grand Slam.
The fact that I was so close gave me confidence for the next match. But now it's grass. It's final of Grand Slam. So the things are different.
I'm not going to comment a lot about this because I don't know what is going to happen. But now I'm more confident.
Q. Serena is likely to be a big sentimental favorite chasing history. How happy are you to play the role of the bad guy, spoiling all these brilliant narratives?
SIMONA HALEP: I think it's a great feeling to face Serena in a Grand Slam final. If you are able to win, makes it sweeter. If you lose, then you have to look forward for the next one.
I'm in a good position, honestly. I have no pressure on myself, just positive one. I have expectations for myself that I can do a great job on court Saturday. Still I'm chill, so...
Q. You mentioned the Royal Box earlier. If you could have one person watching you, who would it be?
SIMONA HALEP: Kate. I like her.
Q. Justine made it to the finals but didn't win the championship. Are there any other tennis greats who have inspired you? What is most inspiring about them to you?
SIMONA HALEP: Every champion is a person that inspires, like, every kid. Back then I have heard many stories of Mr. Tiriac with Vilas, with Becker as well. I know all the moments that they had, all the tough moments, all the good moments.
I know most of the stories. Everything inspired me. That's why I'm here today.
I am confident. I know that everything is possible. If you don't give up, you have a better chance to do great things. I have learned that. I understood that. I'm better now. I'm stronger.
Q. In your last press conference you said seemingly you finally love grass, figured out how your game can be effective on it. Was that realization here? Eastbourne? When did you figure out how to best play your game on this surface?
SIMONA HALEP: Here this week I realized that I have a good chance on grass because I have strong legs, I can open the court. The court works for me if I play the right tactic.
I have a good feeling, as I said. I feel stable on the legs, which is very important. Also serve helps me, which is not the best shot, but I'm working on it.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports