How Serena Williams’ former coach brought Simona Halep back from the brink of tennis retirement
She was an up-and-coming star when she joined the American squad for the first time in the 2009 Australian Open. But then something went wrong, and Simona Halep was out of the sport. She dropped her rankings, she missed the first half of her career and, worst of all, she became one of the best-known tennis players in the world thanks to her stint-on-the-decline on The Price Is Right. But for all those factors that had conspired to her downfall, the biggest one was her mental health.
“I always used to feel like I can’t catch a break. I always felt like this was the day I would find myself off course, lose a match, and then everything would be a lot worse,” Halep explained in an interview with Tennis. “I just never had the ability to get over those kind of things that I feared so much.”
Her mental toughness became her most endearing quality, and it drove her to compete at the next level. Simona’s ability to withstand the loss of her mental health is what helped her to win back-to-back Australian Opens and the French Open title. And she has proved herself yet again as a champion here. She became the third woman in WTA history to win back-to-back titles, trailing only Monica Seles and Kim Clijsters. Halep’s triumph over Serena Williams at the 2012 Australian Open proved that the 28-year-old is still a force to be reckoned with at the highest level.
Now, two years after her Australian Open triumph, Halep has a target on her shoulder — and Simona believes she knows what it is.
“I know I need to go back to what I did three years ago. This isn’t different,” Halep told Sports Illustrated. “That’s why I’m not going to the Australian Open, because it is going to be the same as when I won Wimbledon three years ago.”
Halep was already a