For The Culture: Simona Halep


(Crina Mustafa/The Intermission)

By: Crina Mustafa


Romania has only had a handful of successful athletes, and Simona Halep has become the frontrunner as the country’s favourite one. She represents Romania well, and being a Romanian sports fan myself, I can tell you that she has the entire country’s support when she plays in various tennis tournaments. This is “For the Culture,” and today’s spotlight is tennis sensation Simona Halep. 


22 WTA Titles


Halep has flourished into a consistent and successful player, but she is known for having to work hard to achieve this. Here’s a look at some of her earlier WTA Titles that put her on the map:


Nuremberg Cup (2013)

(Dennis Grombkowski/Getty Images)

Rosmalen Grass Court Championships (2013)

(Edwin Verhoef)

After struggling to make the main draws of grand slams and not making it to any finals, Simona Halep finally won her first two titles in back to back weeks on different surfaces. This was just the beginning. Halep had a breakout season, she won six titles, finished the year at NO.11 in the world and won the ‘WTA Most Improved Player of the Year’ Award. She joined elite company as she had the second most titles on the tour, just behind Serena Williams' 11. Not only that, but she was also the only player to win her first six titles in one season since Steffi Graf in 1986.


Grand Slams: Heartbreak and then Triumph


Simona Halep had her fair share of success, winning multiple WTA titles and even making it to a couple of Grand Slam finals. Nonetheless, each loss in a Grand Slam was heartbreak for Halep and her fans. Here’s a look at each one of those finals:


French Open Runner-Up (2014) (lost to Sharapova)

(Pinterest)

French Open Runner-Up (2017) (lost to Ostapenko)

(Pinterest)

Australian Open Runner-Up (2018) (lost to Wozniaki)

(Tennis World USA)

For all the heartache fans and Simona Halep faced at the French Open, triumph came as well. In 2018, Simona Halep finally got to lift a Grand Slam trophy and on her favorite surface no less. 


French Open Champion (2018)

(Pinterest)

A three-set victory over Sloane Stephens in the 2018 French Open final secured Simona Halep her first Grand Slam victory. I remember watching the match with my whole family, and my mom and I even shed some tears when Halep finally crossed that finish line. It was a great moment for Romanian fans, as Halep represented our entire country.


Wimbledon Champion (2019)


(WTA website)

Some will argue that Simona Halep’s second Grand Slam victory was even better than the first. Taking only 56 minutes to beat tennis legend Serena Williams, Halep played the best match of her life. She took the match 6-2, 6-2, defeating Williams for just the second time in her career. 


Yes, we cried even harder for this victory. 


2020 Vision


Even though the tennis tour halted early in the year and restarted again in the summer, Simona Halep was able to stay at the top of her game, winning three WTA titles and holding on to the number 2 ranking. The Romanian tennis star was having consistent results, and she held her title as the “Queen of Clay.” 


Title #20: Dubai

(WTA)

Title #21: Prague

(WTA)

Title #22: Rome

(Tennis Majors)

After testing positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago, Simona Halep announced today that she has fully recovered from the illness. Her coach, Darren Cahill, joked around that she can go back to training.

We hope that Darren is right and that we can see Halep get back to competing at her high level. Right now, most WTA players are in preseason mode, with the WTA Finals in China being cancelled due to the pandemic. No doubt that tournaments can continue to function safely in 2021, and we can get back to watching Simona Halep in action. She has always been one of my idols as not only a woman in sports, but as a Romanian woman defying odds. Bring on 2021.