Romanian superstar Simona Halep opens up about finding her love for the sport again after having endured a frustrating few years on tour and her hopes of rekindling her special relationship with Roland-Garros after winning her first Grand Slam in Paris back in 2018.
I feel refreshed; I feel more confident; I feel healthy. Finally! I have no problems now, with no injuries. I feel so happy to be back on the court, and I am looking forward to playing each match because I really want to continue to improve.
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Roland-Garros is my favourite tournament and I always feel great when I go there. It is going to be a little bit different because last year I didn’t play, so we will see. I need more time to get my confidence back, and more matches. So hopefully I can continue to find form before going there and I can just enjoy it because it is the best tournament for me.
I will always have great memories of my title at Roland-Garros in 2018 because it was my first Grand Slam, and I had always dreamed of winning the French Open. It was a beautiful atmosphere: so many fans were supporting me and I felt great. I will never forget that moment.
If I win again, it is going to be special as well because any time you win a Grand Slam it is very special. I am 30 now, so I am not putting pressure on myself, but that is why I am here and I am working hard because I dream of achieving that again. We will see if it is going to happen.
Before I visited the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy and announced my partnership with Patrick, I had not had any encounters with him. We had never talked and we never had a connection, just at the Academy when I arrived there.
I had a very different perception of him before we started to work together, and I was very surprised. I really like his personality, his energy and the way he sees tennis.
I was actually the one who approached Patrick to propose working with him. Normally, good coaches don’t ask the players to work with them. I asked him if he was available and wanted to work with me.
He and my former coach, Darren Cahill, are different and I don’t want to make any comparisons between them. I am also a different person now, so it is tough to compare, but both of them are great.
Of course, I noticed specific things that Patrick did with Serena that impressed me.
To keep a player motivated that had already won many Grand Slams and wanted to win even more is crazy good. So for that I always admired him; and now knowing him myself, I can imagine how he was with a player like that and how much motivation he brought her to help her to reach her very best.
Patrick has brought me a lot of motivation and helped me to find my love for this sport again. It is a pleasure to be back on the court and to work hard. Everything has changed and now I have to adjust, but I feel as though I have done pretty well so far in the short term.
I am looking forward to giving my best every time I am on the court to see how good I can still be.
In terms of what we are focusing on, we think that I can be more aggressive. He really believes that I can do that, and slowly I am starting to believe that too. We are working on that aspect, but we are also working on my whole game, not just one specific thing. So everything should come together, and I am trying to follow the plan.
Joining Patrick has meant meeting a new team and working at a new training ground in the south of France. It is a huge change for me because I am not training at home any longer. I always used to train at home in Romania, so now I am not there any longer for my tennis. It was not easy at the beginning, but now it is kind of natural and I feel great. Everyone has been very nice to me so I feel at home there.
Of course, I was shocked to hear of Ash Barty's retirement because she was the best player in the world and she was winning everything. I don’t want to compare retirement plans in general because we have different lives. What she had already achieved was more than what I achieved at that age, so I cannot compare.
I did not expect her to retire, but now that she has done so, it means that she is clearly happy with her decision. I wish her all the best, and she has been so strong to make this decision so quickly. Everyone has to decide for themselves and I understand that.
I have always said that if I felt like I could not play at the highest level then I would stop playing tennis because it would mean that I did not really believe in myself. If you don’t truly believe, there is no point in continuing, but now, having met Patrick and the new team has brought me new confidence in myself. They really believe that I am still able to play good tennis, so the goal is to win tournaments and to be as strong as I can be. I will do everything I can to achieve that. I am ready and I am all in.
In terms of how many more years I think I have left in me, it is a day-to-day vision. I don’t want to only set one goal. The goal is just to improve myself all the time.
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Follow Simona Halep on Instagram (@simonahalep) and Twitter (@Simona_Halep)
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