There is an inscription above the players’ entrance to Wimbledon Centre Court which reads “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, And treat those two imposters just the same”.
It is a Rudyard Kipling quote that has inspired many players over the years including world No 3 Simona Halep, who said those words have had a big impact on her when she first stepped on Centre Court at the All England Club.
A semi-finalist here last year, Halep opens her 2015 Wimbledon journey against Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova on Court 1 on Tuesday. She will certainly be longing to advance and step once again on the hallowed turf of Centre Court though.
Recalling her first time on it, Halep said: “I didn’t know the court before. They said they might change the court before the match. So I went to the Centre Court for first round. It was pretty full, the crowd. So it was amazing.
“I just remember that when you go on court, is like you go in the very nice hotel. It’s like they have carpet on the floor, and the door is really nice. It’s wood and it’s really nice. They have a message up to the door. That made me, like, stronger and more motivated to go on court and to feel good.”
Halep will need all the motivation she can get after suffering a disappointing second round exit at the French Open last month. The 23-year-old has had ups and downs in 2015 and will be looking to recapture her form this fortnight.
“I can say that wasn’t a good clay season for me this year. I was disappointed after I lost in the French Open. I took some days off, home with my family and my friends. I didn’t play tennis for about five days, which was very good,” said Halep.
“I relax myself. I took the pressure off of my head. I just said that I have to enjoy again, just to work hard every day. So I started to work harder more. Now I feel pretty confident that I can play good tennis again.”
Also in action on Tuesday is last year’s Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard, who is suffering an inexplicable slump and is a poor 8-13 win-loss this season.
Halep, who lost to Bouchard in the semis here last year, understands the pressure one feels after having a series of tremendous results and having that big breakthrough on tour. She says it’s tough to follow it up.
“It’s difficult to keep going the good results, to feel good every tournament, every year in a row,” explained Halep.
“I did it for two years already. I had good results. And this year, in the beginning had good results as well. But in the middle, I was a little bit maybe tired mentally and maybe that’s why I lost on clay season.
“Genie Bouchard, she always can come back and make good results. Last year she had a good tennis, so she still has it. I think she will come back soon. I think she has the power to come back. Once that she did good results during grand slams, she can do it again.”
Defending champion Petra Kvitova will kick-off proceedings on Centre Court with her opener against Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens.