June 21, 2024
Simona Halep

Simona Halep retired from the Trophee Clarins in Paris (Image: WTA)

Romanian tennis star Simona Halep returned to tennis action last month when she was handed a wildcard entry into the 2024 Miami Open. Although she got knocked out in the second round, Halep played some decent tennis despite being away from the game for over a year.

However, it was not an easy comeback for the 32-year-old, as she was returning after serving a doping ban. Halep’s image was tainted, and although she got her ban reduced from four years to nine months, fans were not ready to let it slip under the rug easily. This chatter around her comeback made Halep nervous.

However, as claimed by the player herself, contrary to the narrative, she was welcomed back wholeheartedly by the fans. Halep has revealed that all the jitters and nervousness were gone when she entered the playing arena and was cheered by the fans.

And when I arrived on-site, the love that I received from the people that are working for the tournament, the security, and all the people around, and also the players, helped me to just forget everything. And it felt like I never (was) away. So it was a great feeling, a great energy, and I was really happy deep down that I am, again, part of tennis and part of this sport that I love.

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Simona Halep hopes to make the most of his comeback despite the baggage
Having returned to the tour after serving a ban for anti-doping rule violations will have its downsides, and Simona Halep is well aware of that. The 32-year-old admits that she will have to carry this baggage, as it is not easy to shrug it off with a snap of a finger.

Simona Halep
Simona Halep

However, the Romanian ace is determined to make the most of her comeback. Halep says that the joy of playing again will help her move ahead despite the baggage.

What I went through is not easy. So I cannot forget, like this just because I got cleared. There is baggage that probably will stay longer, and I cannot forget, like, one day (to the next) what happened. So I have to handle it better. I have to control my emotions coming back. So there is a (lot) that is not easy. But the joy, I hope, will help me.

The two-time Grand Slam champion also gave a sneak peek into her future plans as she is now back on the tour. Halep says that while it is not easy for her to play like her older self, the former World No. 1 player intends to return to the top 10. Notably, Halep is currently ranked in the 1144th position.

It is worth mentioning that, unlike players who take a break due to injury or maternity leave, banned players do not get protected rankings. Although there are ongoing talks about introducing such a provision, Halep would not benefit from it.

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