Simona Halep: The End of a Chapter

How Serena Williams’ former coach brought Simona Halep back from the brink of tennis retirement

In the summer of 2012, Simona Halep was preparing to compete on the French Open Junior Championships. She’d won the girls’ singles title in 2011 at the Australian Open and looked set for another breakthrough Grand Slam this year, but then tragedy struck.

On the eve of competition, her mother died from complications from heart disease. She was only 19. Halep had lost her mother at just that age and had been devastated.

And so the young tennis player resolved to never work again, to play tennis only to please her family. “I was very sad and I did not want to work anymore, I thought that I was not going to succeed,” she explained.

But after a decade on the job as coach to Williams, she’d been struck by an unexpected opportunity: She was contacted by Serena Williams, at just the time she’d been preparing to retire. She met the star and was asked to take over as the Wimbledon runner-up’s coach.

“I started feeling like ‘I might be able to coach Serena. Maybe it’s not as bad as what it looked,'” says Halep, the two athletes meeting at a conference in St. Tropez. “But I would have been very happy with playing with Serena.”

Serena Williams: ‘I’m ready for the end of a chapter’

For three days, she was, as she traveled to Nice to prepare for Wimbledon, talking tennis with the star before they faced off in the final.

After the match, Serena was gracious. She hugged and thanked her coach. But also something more. There were three-word sentences. “I love you.” “You are my inspiration.” “I will beat you next time.”

It was the kind of love she’d been waiting for all this time: the respect of an athlete who was always going to be her coach, despite her differences. No matter

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