Serena Williams's alleged dig at Simona Halep, following the release of the Romanian's long-awaited case verdict on Tuesday (September 12), led many tennis fans to draw parallels with Novak Djokovic.
Halep tested positive for a banned substance called Roxadustat during the 2022 US Open. She also faced scrutiny due to the anomalies detected in her Athlete Biological Passport, with 51 of her blood samples showing irregularities.
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) announced on Tuesday that Halep had been slapped with a four-year suspension. Soon after the news broke, Serena Williams posted a cryptic comment which was allegedly directed towards Simona Halep.
Williams took to X (formerly Twitter) and wrote:
"8 is a better number."
The remark is thought to be in reference to Halep's victory over Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final. That result cost the American her eighth Wimbledon title and 24th Grand Slam overall.
Williams' tweet did not sit well with some tennis fans, who quickly started calling her out. One user made a comparison between Djokovic imitating Ben Shelton's phone celebration at the 2023 US Open and Williams commenting right after Halep's case verdict.
"Weren't tennis media calling Djokovic a "bully" for throwing shade at Shelton just a few days ago? I guess Serena Williams is "mother" for doing so regarding a far more serious issue," the user wrote.
Another user said Williams lacked "class" and that she was "bitter" towards her colleague at her "lowest point."
"She doesn’t have class at all! Why be bitter coz you lost to Simona once? Especially on a day she is at her lowest point," the user tweeted.
Another account posted:
"The double standard is tiring."
Here are a few more reactions from tennis fans:
Novak Djokovic is the first male player ever to win 24 Grand Slam titles
By taking home his fourth US Open trophy, Novak Djokovic made history by becoming the first male player to win 24 Grand Slam titles. Djokovic beat Daniil Medvedev, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the final in New York on Sunday to accomplish the feat.
The Serb described the range of emotions he felt after his victory over Medvedev in an interview with Sportklub, saying:
"In those moments, physically and materially, I no longer feel my legs, I don't feel strength, the ground under my feet and the sky above my head are spinning."
The 36-year-old also expressed gratitude to his Serbian heritage. He said everything he achieves seems "sweeter" and more "fulfilling" to him as his country gives him faith and hope.
"But, well, it's part of my life's journey, I'm grateful that I come from Serbia. It gives me faith and hope, that's why everything I achieve is sweeter and fulfills me even more," Djokovic said.