Simona Halep didn't apply for Wimbledon wildcard due to knee injury as debate stirs again

WTA
Thursday, 20 June 2024 at 11:01
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With the wildcards confirmed this morning for the 2024 Wimbledon Championships, one big miss was Simona Halep who wasn't even given a wildcard to play qualifying at SW19 and only has one more hope in order to get in to the tournament which is the final remaining wildcard to be confirmed.
Albeit this will likely go to another Brit or a Challenger winner if a surprise name comes through in the next week. But it goes to show the stark reality of Halep's situation after returning from being banned from the sport for nine months in that it isn't that simple for her to resume her glittering career.
It has emerged since through her PR that Halep didn't request a wildcard from Wimbledon as her knee is not ready to compete at 100% yet. Last week, the AELTC (All England Lawn and Tennis Club) were asked about Halep and her situation regarding a wildcard and they said she was under the same rules as anybody else. But with Maria Sharapova's situation and now not being handed a wildcard, it shows the route isn't easy.
Sharapova infamously wasn't given one back in 2017 with her doping suspension counting against her. She did not request a Wimbledon wildcard and instead went through qualifying. But whilst that was a route available to the Russian, Halep is not ranked high enough and has been in and out with injury so can't even enter qualifying without some help.
Former Wimbledon champion, Simona Halep apparently did not request a wildcard due to recent injury issues.
Former Wimbledon champion, Simona Halep apparently did not request a wildcard due to recent injury issues.
Returning very quickly from her doping ban after continuing to keep ticking over, she was given a wildcard for the Miami Open and then initially Madrid, both IMG tournaments. But aside from that was not rewarded, she last played at the Trophee´ Clarins in Paris prior to Roland Garros where she led by a set against McCartney Kessler but retired injured. She has not played since mainly due to not getting a wildcard for Paris and being injured.
But her return in reality was fraught from the beginning with words from Caroline Wozniacki who herself has benefited from wildcards and saw double standards in Halep's rhetoric surrounding getting into tournaments through the back door.
“I’ve always liked Simona,” said Wozniacki, also a former world number one. “We’ve always had a good relationship. If someone has tested positive for doping, I understand why a tournament wants a big star in the tournament, but it’s my personal belief, and it’s not a knock on anyone, that I don’t think people should be awarded wild cards afterwards.
“If you want to come back, and it’s been a mistake, I understand, you should work your way up from the bottom. Simona’s situation has obviously dragged on for a long time. She got her suspension reduced. It wasn’t a clearance, it was a reduced sentence.
“I just hope for a clean sport. That’s all I want. I want to have good role models for the young generation. It’s a sport that has a lot of money in it, a lot of competitiveness, a lot of competitors. I want a fair fight.”
But Halep maintained her innocence both from the start of her ordeal until now saying she didn't dope despite technically being convicted by the doping authorities of taking Roxudustat. “Why did she say that? I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t cheat. I didn’t dope. Thank you to the tournament for giving me the wild card and have the possibility to play in such a big tournament. It was great to be back," said Halep at the time.
Wozniacki herself was one of the recipients of said wildcards for Wimbledon alongside fellow former World No.1's in Angelique Kerber and Naomi Osaka. Albeit all realistically don't have the record on this surface that Halep does aside from Kerber.
The Dane in particular has shunned playing qualifying for the most part for tournament and also playing lower level likely seeing her status as a barometer in order to gain wildcards in an era where more players are returning than ever.
But now for Halep, she sits at a cross roads in her Wimbledon dilemma as she will either attempt to request a final wildcard or likely see her career stalled until at least the US Open swing aside from if she can get a wildcard for a tournament before that point at a lower level. Whether or not she can even play at the moment or whether she is injured also remains a huge issue. She has suffered in particular with her knee since the return. The extent of her injury suffered in Paris is not known.
But her PR agent saying that she didn't request a wildcard for that reason tells the full picture perhaps at the likelihood of Halep returning anytime soon. If it isn't Halep, Venus Williams could yet spring a late return as she has done in the past. Or it will likely go to a rising Brit winning a Challenger or a smaller tournament in the run-up to Wimbledon.
The more likely route given that the wildcards in the women's tournament are mainly given thus far to former big names instead of Brits compared to the men which saw Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic as big snubs. Albeit for Thiem, it is different to Halep and is more of a public outcry as many believe he should be given the rewards for a career ending.
Simona Halep's conundrum in terms of her tennis career will continue well into the autumn of her first year back it seems. No Roland Garros, no Wimbledon and no Olympic Games either for Halep. Some would say it is just desserts for her doping ban, while others have chimed today that she has been wrongfully treated by Wimbledon in not being allowed a wildcard.
Opinions may differ but it certainly offers up another debate and facet to the ongoing conversation regarding wildcards and their use in tennis in this current day and age. From being all French players at Roland Garros to a mix at Wimbledon, the US Open too will also likely offer up a new list. Wozniacki too for instance will play at the Olympic Games as one of the two afforded a route through the back door. While Halep firmly remains out in the cold injury or not.

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