Simona Halep confides to the AP that she felt apprehensive about making her comeback to tennis following her appeal against a doping ban

Published Categorized as Tennis No Comments on Simona Halep confides to the AP that she felt apprehensive about making her comeback to tennis following her appeal against a doping ban
Simona Halep

Simona Halep flew to Florida for the Miami Open, marking her return to professional tennis after a 1 1/2-year hiatus due to a reduced doping ban. Feeling nervous, she confided in her mother about uncertainties regarding the experience, both on and off the court.

Now, as she prepares for her upcoming tournaments in Portugal and Madrid, Halep reflects on her apprehensions about re-entering the tennis scene after such a long absence.

However, upon arriving at the tournament, she was overwhelmed by the warmth and support from tournament staff, security, fellow players, and fans, which helped alleviate her concerns.

With a newfound sense of belonging and excitement, Halep, now 32, expresses gratitude for being back in the sport she loves and is motivated to give her best performance moving forward under the guidance of her new coach, Carlos Martinez.

Simona Halep (Credits:

Halep used to be one of the top players in the world. Everyone knew it, including her and the official rankings. She reached No. 1 in 2017 but has since dropped to 1,144th place.

Her success was evident in her tournament performances, with achievements like reaching the finals of major tournaments and winning the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019, defeating Serena Williams in the final.

However, returning to the game after a doping ban has presented challenges for Halep. She’s uncertain about her abilities on the court, given the lack of recent matches. Her fitness is also a concern, considering it’s crucial for her playing style. Moreover, finding motivation during her time away from the sport was difficult without knowing when or if she would compete again.

Despite the struggles, Halep feels relieved and liberated now that she’s back in action. She faced a potentially career-ending situation when she received a four-year penalty from the International Tennis Integrity Agency for testing positive for a banned drug at the 2022 U.S. Open.

However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that her positive test was unintentional and caused by a contaminated supplement. As a result, her ban was reduced to nine months, allowing her to return to competition sooner than expected.

“The WTA fully backs our anti-doping program and the process involved. It’s an independent process, and we support its findings. So, I’m fully supportive of her comeback,” said Steve Simon, the head of the women’s tour.

“I haven’t talked to her directly or seen her yet, but I’ve sent her a message. It’s fantastic to have her back, and I’m excited to hopefully see Simona playing some fantastic tennis.”

When Halep was banned — not just from playing, but, as she mentioned, from attending tournaments — she didn’t feel like watching much tennis on TV.

Simona Halep

Who helped her during the uncertainty? Her family, a few friends, and some current and former players offered their support. This list includes Chris Evert, Kim Clijsters, Ash Barty, Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitová, and Carla Suarez Navarro.

The joy of competing is what drives her now, more than any specific goals.

And, she explained, it’s difficult to set goals now, both because of her long absence and because, as she said, “I’m 32; I’m not that young anymore.” She does hope to return to the Top 10 again.

“What I went through wasn’t easy. So, I can’t just forget it like that,” she said, snapping her fingers, “just because I’ve been cleared. There’s baggage that will probably linger, and I can’t forget what happened overnight.

So I have to handle it better. I have to control my emotions as I come back. There’s a lot that isn’t easy. But I hope the joy will help me.”


By Ritik

Ritik Katiyar is pursuing a post-graduate degree in Pharmaceutics. Currently, he lives in Srinagar, Uttarakhand, India. You can find him writing about all sorts of listicle topics. A pharmaceutical postgrad by day, and a content writer by night. You can write to him at [email protected]

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