Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep has revealed that she was closed to quitting the sport last season after an injury lay-off which made her doubt if she could return to her best form again. She has also admitted that it was her coach Patrick Mouratoglou who helped her rediscover her “fire”.
In 2021 Halep missed three months of action due to a calf injury that she sustained whilst playing in Rome. The setback forced her to miss two Grand Slam events, as well as the Tokyo Olympic Games. Then at the end of the season, she withdrew from the Linz Open due to a knee problem. At the time the Romanian was already considering her future in the sport as she openly admitted that she thought she would stop playing around the age of 30.
“I really thought I would be done by 30”- Simona Halep
“I felt exhausted and I felt that there is no chance I can be in the top anymore,” Simona Halep told CNN Sport’s Christina Macfarlane in an exclusive interview with her new coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. “It was really tough to look on the bright side.” Halep was losing interest in tennis after dropping out of the top 10 global rankings for the first time since January 2014. Halep thinks her passion for the sport has been revived since she began working with Mouratoglou early this year.
“I didn’t really expect that because I’m not very open to people and it’s not easy for me to trust in somebody. But it was just a great connection since the first moment I met him,” Halep said of Mouratoglou. “I was almost done before coming here because I didn’t have that fire anymore and I didn’t trust that I’m able to play at the highest level again. So coming here I found it and I discovered again why I play tennis,” she adds. “I play tennis because I love it … He brought that fire back.”
When Mouratoglou and Simona Halep spoke to CNN they were prepping for Roland Garros, where the 30-year-old Romanian is scheduled to play against Croatia’s Ana Konjuh in the first round on Sunday. Halep has fond memories of the French Open, having won her maiden grand slam in Paris after beating Sloane Stephens in 2018. “The French Open is my favourite grand slam,” she says. “I love the city. I feel great. I like the vibe. So everything gets together and I just feel great. It’s going to be a big challenge, this tournament, for me.
“I’m ready mentally. I’m ready to give my best. I really thought I would be done by 30. I was wrong. I want to play few more years. I feel like I can. My body is okay. You know, I feel healthy. I feel that my energy level is high. So I don’t see any reason to stop now,” she concluded.