Former Wimbledon champion Simona Halep fought back from deficits in both sets to defeat retiring Belgian Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-4 on Thursday and power into the third round at Wimbledon.

The 36-year-old Flipkens, who is playing in her 50th and final Grand Slam, had a 5-2 lead in the first set and a 4-1 advantage in the second but the 2019 champion rallied on both occasions to complete the victory in straight sets.

It was the sixth win for Romanian Halep against Flipkens in as many matches and the duo hugged each other for a long time at the net after the match as the Belgian burst into tears as her singles career came to an end.

With retired Belgian four-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters watching from the stands, Flipkens continued crying and left her headband on the court before kissing the grass goodbye as the crowd gave her warm applause.

In the opening set there were seven breaks of serve, but it was 16th seed Halep who came out on top against Flipkens, who achieved her greatest Grand Slam success at Wimbledon when she reached the semi-finals in 2013.

The 2018 French Open champion suffered an early break in the second set but bounced back to break her opponent’s serve twice to wrap up the contest in one hour 23 minutes.

Halep will next face Poland’s 92nd ranked Magdalena Frech for a place in the fourth round of the grasscourt major.