"My dream is to come back, whatever my age" - Simona Halep vows to make a return to tennis even if she has to serve full doping suspension until 2026

Simona Halep doping
Simona Halep pictured at the 2021 Australian Open

Former World No. 1 Simona Halep has vowed to return to tennis even if she has to serve a full doping suspension until 2026.

Halep was handed a four-year ban from the sport as a result of two doping violations, as announced by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) on September 2023.

After her suspension during the New York Slam for testing positive for the blood-boosting substance, Roxadustat, she faced additional charges for a second anti-doping violation in May 2023, this time related to the irregularities found in her Athlete Biological Passport. The Romanian's ban renders her ineligible to take part in professional tennis until October 6, 2026.

Simona Halep recently opened up in an interview with the Paris Match and said that she is determined to return to tennis. She also expressed her strong desire for her career to conclude right where it began — on the tennis court.

"I prefer not to consider the worst-case scenario. It would be a disaster. Especially since, if the sanction is maintained, I cannot know what will happen over the next three years, how my body will evolve," the two-time Grand Slam champion said.
"My dream is to come back, whatever my age. One thing is certain: I want to choose how my career ends and I don't want to end my playing life anywhere other than on a court. I think that, given the work I have put in over all these years, I deserve it," she added.

Simona Halep: "The current period is the hardest of my entire career, but tennis is my whole life and it will always be"

Simona Halep pictured at the 2022 National Bank Open
Simona Halep pictured at the 2022 National Bank Open

During the same interview, Simona Halep was asked if she thought tennis gave her everything back after she made so many sacrifices for the sport, including having breast surgery to play freely.

The 32-year-old replied:

"No. It’s true that I dedicated my childhood, my adolescence, my life to tennis. Even though I didn't see much of my friends when I was young, he gave me back more than I could have imagined. The current period is the hardest of my entire career, but I have no animosity or negative feelings. Tennis is my whole life and it always will be."

Halep then said that the "tiny probability" of competing in the 2024 Paris Olympics is what keeps her going. However, even if she is unable to participate, she will be present there as a spectator to enjoy the "magical" experience.

"There is a tiny probability that I will be able to participate, so I believe in it and I will do everything for it. At 32, it’s also what helps me keep going. But I don't hold all the cards. However, whatever happens, I will be there. At worst, as a spectator, because it will be magical," she said.

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Edited by Pritha Ghosh
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