For much of the last year, Simona Halep waved off retirement questions. Despite injuries and a marriage to longtime partner Toni Iuruc, the Romanian insisted she was as committed as she ever was to reclaiming her place atop the WTA rankings.
In a new interview with CNN, Halep admits that wasn’t always the case, saying she indeed felt close to hanging up her racquets last season.
“I had the biggest injury of my career, and I didn’t know how to manage it at the start,” she says in a profile with new coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who took on the two-time major champion as his full-time pupil earlier this spring after spending a decade alongside Serena Williams. “I was scared and had low confidence because I felt my body didn’t hold anymore.”
Halep had been playing her peak tennis at the start of 2020; fresh off scoring an emphatic Wimbledon victory over 23-time major champion Williams the previous summer, Halep began the new year by reaching the Australian Open semifinals and winning her 20th career title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent bubble life turned all of that upside down; a calf injury at last year's Internazionali BNL d'Italia ruled her out of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, where she had been set to defend her title.
“I really suffered and I didn’t see any light outside of the tunnel.”