Simona Halep is a Romanian professional tennis player who has been No.1 in the world and has won multiple Grand Slam titles.
Name: Simona Halep
Born: September 27, 1991
Turned Pro: 2006
Simona Halep was born in Constanta, Romania and started playing tennis at the age of four after attending her older brother’s training session. Although her brother Nicolae stopped playing after a few years, Halep continued to practice twice a week until she was six. She then began daily practices, and soon found a sponsor in the leading tennis club in Constanta. She began playing on the ITF Junior Circuit in 2005, and won four singles events the following year. She would win the girls French Open title in 2008, becoming the No.1 junior in the world. At the age of 16, she moved away from her family to train in Bucharest.
Halep turned pro in 2006, but participated on the ITF Women’s Circuit for the next few years. She attempted to qualify for two WTA events in 2009, but lost on the second qualifying rounds at both the Open GDF Suez and Roland Garros. She would make her WTA main-draw debut in 2010, reaching the quarterfinals of the Andalucia Tennis Experience (l. to Pennetta). She reached her first WTA final at the 2010 Morocco Open, losing to Iveta Benesova. She would make her Grand Slam debut that year, losing in the first round of Roland Garros (l. to Stosur) and the US Open (l. to Jankovic). Halep would end the year ranked No.81 in the world.
During the 2011 season, Halep would reach the third round of the Australian Open. She would also reach the second round of Wimbledon, losing to defending champion Serena Williams. She followed this with her first Top 10 victory, defeating World No.6 Li Na in the opening round at the US Open. The Romanian would reach a career-high of World No.37 the following year, highlighted by a runner-up showing at Brussels (l. to Radwanska). She would finish the 2012 season ranked No.47 in the world.
Halep would have her first breakthrough at the 2013 Italian Open, reaching the semifinals (l. to Serena Williams). Her first WTA title came at the 2013 Nuremberg Cup, followed by a title win at the Topshelf Open the following week. She would win her third WTA title at the Budapest Grand Prix, and rise to World No.23. Halep went on to win three more titles in 2013, at New Haven (d. Kvitova) and Moscow (d. Stosur). Her final title of the year came at the WTA Tournament of Champions, and she ended the year ranked World No.11. She would also receive the WTA Most Improved Player of The Year award.
Halep reached her first Major quarterfinal at the 2014 Australian Open, losing to Dominika Cibulkova. She won her first Premier 5 title at the Qatar Open, defeating Angelique Kerber in the final. After a semifinal appearance at Indian Wells, she would rise to No.5 in the rankings. During the clay court season, she would finish runner-up at both the Madrid Open and Roland Garros. These exceptional performances saw her rise to No.3 in the world.
Halep would make a semifinal run at the 2014 Wimbledon Championships, losing to Eugenie Bouchard after suffering an ankle injury. She recovered in time to participate in and win the inaugural Bucharest Open in her home country. This saw her rise to No.2 in the rankings, making her the second seed at the US Open. She would be upset in the third round, and not play another event till the year-ending WTA Finals. She finished runner-up at the event, losing to World No.1 Serena Williams in the final.
The Romanian had a strong start to 2015, winning the Shenzhen Open. She would also triumph in Dubai and at Indian Wells, before losing in the semifinals of the Miami Open. She would underperform at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, losing before the third round at each event. She would rebound during the hardcourt season, with runner-up finishes at both the Canadian Open and the Cincinnati Open. She then produced her best Grand Slam result, making the semifinals of the US Open (l. to Pennetta). She would qualify for the WTA Finals but fail to reach the knockout stage. She finished the season with a career-best year-end ranking of World No.2.
Halep had an underwhelming first quarter during the 2016 season. After falling out of the Top 5, she would win her second career Premier title at the Madrid Open. However, she would lose in the fourth round of the French Open (l. to Stosur) and suffer a quarterfinal exit at Wimbledon (l. to Kerber). Nonetheless, Halep followed up this performance with back-to-back titles at the Bucharest Open and the Canadian Open. She would lose to World No. Serena Williams at the 2016 US Open quarterfinals in a close three-set match. After making the semifinals at Wuhan, Halep would again play at the WTA Finals. She again failed to progress to the knockout stage, and finished the year ranked World No.4.
Halep defended her title at the 2017 Madrid Open, after having issues with her left knee to start the season. She finished runner-up at the Italian Open the following week, losing to World No.11 Elina Svitolina. Halep would reach the French Open final, but lose to the unseeded Jelena Ostapenko in three sets. The Romanian would produce strong results during the hard court season, losing in the semifinals at the Canadian Open (l. to Svitolina). She would lose to Garbine Muguruza in the final of the Cincinnati Open, before competing at the US Open. Facing a returning Maria Sharapova in the first round, Halep would lose in three sets. Nonetheless, she would rebound and finish runner-up at the China Open (l. to Garcia). This performance was enough for her to take the World No.1 ranking from Muguruza. She would fail to advance out of the group stage for the third consecutive year at the 2017 WTA Finals. However, she still ended the year ranked No.1 in the world.
Halep held onto her No.1 ranking for most of 2018, losing it for only four weeks in February. She won titles at Shenzhen (d. Siniakova in final) and Montréal (d. Stephens in final). She had her best performance at the Australian Open, losing to World No.2 Caroline Wozniacki in the final. Halep would also reach two more WTA semifinals at Doha and Indian Wells. After a runner-up finish at the Italian Open, she would make her second consecutive French Open final. The Romanian would finally win her first Grand Slam title, defeating World No.10 Sloane Stephens in three sets. She followed this with a victory at the Canadian Open, defeating Stephens in a rematch of the Roland Garros final. After a first round loss at the US Open, Halep would end her season early due to an Achilles and back injury.
Halep would lose the No.1 ranking at the start of the 2019 season, suffering a fourth round Australian Open loss to Serena Williams. She finished runner-up at Doha and Madrid, and failed to defend her French Open title (l. to Anisimova in QF). After falling to No.8 in the rankings, she would compete at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships. She won the tournament, defeating Serena Williams in the final. Halep became the first Romanian to win a Wimbledon singles title and rose back to No.4 in the rankings. She would be upset by American Taylor Townsend in the second round of the US Open. Halep again failed to advance to the knockout stage at the year-ending WTA Finals, and finished the year ranked as World No.4.
At the 2020 Australian Open, Halep would lose in the semifinals to eventual runner-up Garbine Muguruza. She won her 20th WTA singles title at Dubai, defeating Elena Rybakina in the final.
Halep received a hero’s welcome in Romania after winning her two Grand Slam titles. Over 10,000 people were present at each celebration when she returned home, and she is regarded as the biggest sports star in Romania. She has been awarded the Patriarchal Cross of Romania and the Order of the Star of Romania. Her tennis idols growing up were former WTA World No.1 Justine Henin and Roger Federer. She is a big fan of football, having played when she was younger.
Simona Halep in 2022 and 2023
Simona Halep’s career in 2022 and 2023 was unfortunately marred by a doping scandal that resulted in a four-year ban from tennis. According to the news reports, Halep tested positive for roxadustat, a banned blood booster, at the US Open in 2022. She was provisionally suspended since October 2022 and faced a tribunal in London in June 2023. The tribunal found that Halep had committed intentional anti-doping rule violations and imposed a four-year ban on her, effective from October 6, 2022 to October 6, 2026.
Roxadustat is a substance that is used to treat anemia, but it is also considered a blood doping agent that increases the production of red blood cells. Halep claimed that she was unaware of the presence of roxadustat in her system and blamed a contaminated dietary supplement. She also said that her reputation and career were ruined and that she suffered from mental health issues because of the doping case.
The two-time Grand Slam champion, has not played any competitive matches since the US Open in 2022. She has not yet commented publicly on the tribunal’s decision. It is possible that the four-year ban could end her career, as she will be 35 years old when she is eligible to return to the sport.
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