How Serena Williams’ former coach brought Simona Halep back from the brink of tennis retirement
Simona Halep in the locker room before her win over Ekaterina Makarova on Aug. 6 at the Allianz Arena. | Photo: Getty Images
On Aug. 6, Simona Halep defeated No. 3 Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets to clinch her second consecutive title match of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. It was as perfect a conclusion to a stellar year in which Halep became the first American player to win Wimbledon since 1969. She also became the second female player in the history of the sport to win Grand Slam titles in two different seasons.
And by the time Halep finished her match against the Russian, she had become a fan favorite.
The crowd that watched the American’s two-set victory over Makarova and roared their approval and whooped with joy at the end of the match was an entirely different group than the one that had booed Halep when she lost to Halep in the U.S. Open final.
When Halep went up 5-4 in the fifth set against Makarova (4-3, 6-2), it was obvious that the crowd wasn’t happy. She won the next three games, including a service game and a tiebreaker, until Makarova fought back to win, 6-1, 6-3. But the crowd was in an uproar. Halep was a superstar; it is a given that the crowd is going to boo when a star loses.
But while Halep was booed by a small group of fans, the rest of the crowd was having none of it. The fans, who were in the stadium for the final, were so inspired by Halep’s performance that they booed the commentators on BBC and the rest of their national radio networks. Halep’s fans were booing the commentators because they hadn’t cheered for their hero in the match. The fact that Halep had beaten her opponent to claim her second WTA title made the crowd love her even better.
That is why