Halep ready to hoist Venus Rosewater Dish for a second time

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Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 4, 2022 Romania's Simona Halep celebrates winning her fourth round match against Spain's Paula Badosa REUTERS/Paul Childs

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LONDON, July 4 (Reuters) - Earning the right to wear the purple Wimbledon member's badge meant the world to Simona Halep and a day after the 2019 champion showed off her prized possession during Centre Court's centenary celebrations she was back doing what she does best.

The cancellation of the 2020 tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a torn calf muscle in the run-up to last year's edition meant Halep never got a chance to defend her title.

But on day eight of this year's championships, she finally got an opportunity to show off her tennis skills on Centre Court for the first time since that magical win over Serena Williams in the title match three years ago.

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Her Spanish opponent, world number four Paula Badosa, might have been the higher ranked player on Monday but from the early exchanges it was clear who felt more at home on tennis' most famous stage as the Romanian floated away with a 6-1 6-2 win.

"It's always a pleasure to be back on Centre Court," a beaming Halep said after setting up a quarter-final with 20th-seeded American Amanda Anisimova.

"It means a lot that I'm back in a quarter-final after I struggled so much with injuries and self-confidence," added the former world number one who has slipped to 18th in the rankings.

"I worked really hard in the past two, three months. That's why I'm starting to play better and better. I'm really happy with the way I'm playing. I'm really confident. It's a pleasure to be on court."

The ease with which the 16th seed has reached the last eight means many are now tipping her to lift the Venus Rosewater Dish for the second time.

The only Grand Slam champion left in the women's draw has reached the quarters without dropping a set and, considering she is the highest seed left in the top half of the draw, it would be a major shock if she fails to reach Saturday's final.

The victory over Badosa was her 30th win of the season, which is already more than her total during 2020 and 2021.

"I feel I have power on court. I feel strong physically. I feel very good mentally. So I think everything is coming together," said the 30-year-old, who is now being guided by Serena Williams' former coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

"This helps me to believe more and (produce) my best tennis. I'm enjoying what's happening right now."

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Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Ken Ferris

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