How Serena Williams’ former coach brought Simona Halep back from the brink of tennis retirement
It’s been a long road back for Simona Halep.
Back in 2010 she was on the verge of going pro. She was ranked No. 7 and had taken three years to make it to No. 21.
Not quite ready to get out of tennis, Halep was considering retirement. She tried hanging out and attending concerts on the side, but she was always on her couch thinking of what to do.
As an 18-year-old, she was at her lowest form.
She was also in despair after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease related to her high performance.
‘It’s hard to explain how you feel like,’ she said in a sit-down recently in Washington. ‘I was really happy and I was not thinking only about playing tennis.
‘I was thinking about life, what would happen if I did not play tennis because I was not feeling good. It’s too hard. I thought about dying.’
Halep has long since bounced back from these struggles and now is one of the greatest female tennis players since Steffi Graf. She is ranked world No. 1 and has won 18 grand slams.
But when she was first diagnosed with the disease that ended her career, Halep was going into a dark period.
Now she says she has finally found a path.
‘I had to make a decision for myself,’ Halep said in Washington.
Her coach and mentor, Ivan Ljubicic, was one of the first people to help her out.
In her darkest days, when she considered going pro, Ljubicic was the first person to offer her help.
‘I am grateful to him because he was very understanding and he was always there for me,’ Halep said. ‘He was very strong person without getting angry at me.
‘He kept his calm. He never did blame me, but he did think about me. He was very strong person without getting angry at me. He kept his calm. He never did blame me, but he did think about me.’
His decision to leave tennis meant they were starting over
It wasn’t the first time Ljubicic has