“Ash, what can I say, you know I have tears right? My friend, I will miss you on tour. You were different, and special, and we shared some amazing moments. What’s next for you? Grand Slam champion in golf?! Be happy and enjoy your life to the max xo Simo,”. This was the heartfelt message Halep tweeted on hearing the news of Ashleigh Barty’s retirement. But that is what she was considering too after the crash that came after her 2019 Wimbledon triumph. “But now that she is back, she is stronger than ever”, says Eurosport’s’ Mats Wilander, a former Swedish tennis player.

Also Read: Report: Rafael Nadal ‘wants’ to play against Nick Kyrgios in Wimbledon semis

The High:

The Romanian is a former world No. 1 junior. She became a professional in 2006, debuted in the top 100 in 2010, debuted in the top 50 in 2011, and won the 2013 WTA Most Improved Player award. Between 2017 and 2019, she held the top singles ranking twice for a total of 64 weeks, which is the eleventh-longest streak in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings’ history. The year-end No. 1 in 2017 and 2018 was Halep. She triumphed in the 2018 French Open and the 2019 Wimbledon Championships. Halep spent 373 straight weeks in the top 10 from 2014 to 2021, the eighth-longest record in WTA history. 

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The Low:

A strong favourite at the 2020 French Open, Halep won her first three matches in straight sets before falling to eventual champion Iga Witek in the fourth round, losing after only taking three games. She thereby lost the opportunity to reclaim the top spot. She also advanced to the quarterfinals in the 2021 Australian Open, where Serena Williams defeated her. She withdrew due to a shoulder issue from the Miami Open. Her best performance after recovering from the injuries occurred at the Madrid Open, where she lost in the semifinals. She withdrew from the Italian Open after hurting a muscle in her left calf during her match with Angelique Kerber. 

Halep withdrew from the French Open because she did not heal from her calf injury in time. Halep withdrew from Wimbledon, where she had been the defending champion since 2019, because she had still not fully healed from her injury. Her ranking dropped to 13, knocking her out of the Top 10 for the first time since January 2014 and ending a streak of 373 consecutive weeks in the Top 10, the eighth-longest in WTA history, as a result of failing to defend her 2019 Wimbledon points. Halep missed her second-round match at the 2021 National Bank Open after returning to the game with a right adductor issue. She finally returned to action at 2021 US Open but faced a straight-set defeat to Svitolina.

She finished the 2021 season as No. 20. Prior to then, she had always finished in the top 5 starting in 2014. Romania’s biggest star had just fallen down.

Also Read: Wimbledon: Elena Rybakina wins, all set to face Jabeur in final

The Future: 

The former world No.1 is working slowly but steadily her way to the top again. The 2022 season till now has show much promise.

All though she was handed early exits in the Australian and French Open, she was handed the 16th seeding at the 2022 Wimbledon.  She cruised to semis by winning in straight sets, even when everyone though it would be a closely fought match. At the end , Russian-born Rybakina defeated former champion to get to the Wimbledon final. This was her best performance since the Low.

Halep was handed the 16th seeding at the 2022 Wimbledon.  As she now inches back to full fitness, her experience alone makes her a credible challenger. She is now working with the decorated coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who has also worked with Serena Williams.

The comeback of Simona Halep doesn’t just bode well for women’s tennis, it is good news for the sport of tennis as well.