Halep to come back on the court in match against Agassi and Graf

Find out the whereabouts of the match and who's going to partner Simona in the doubles encounter.

by Claudiu Pop
Halep to come back on the court in match against Agassi and Graf
© Shaun Botterill / Getty Images Europe

Although she currently serves a 4-year suspension for using the forbidden drug roxadustat, Simona Halep will make a surprise comeback on 15th June in an exhibition doubles match against legendary tennis couple Steffi Graff and Andre Agassi held during Sports Festival 2024 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Halep's partner in the doubles match will be former world number 13 Andrei Pavel. According to a Sports Festival video with Agassi and Graf, they were the ones who came up with the idea of reviving Halep from her suspension back to an official tennis court.

Halep, reacting to the news, expressed her excitement. "I experienced special moments in Cluj, on that wonderful field set up as part of Sports Festival.

I can't wait to go back and play there with Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf," said Halep in a recent Sports Festival press release. Andrei Pavel matched Simona's energy. "I can't wait to see them again, especially Andre with whom we have a history… we played together seven times, beat him once.

They are amazing people. See you there," said Pavel as quoted by Sports Festival. Pavel has a history with Halep as well. While Andrei was training her, Halep got for the 1st time on the first place in the WTA ranking. Also, she won her first Grand Slam, the 2018 French Open.

Halep shared her response to the invitation she got from Agassi and Graf on her Instagram account.

This won't be the first time Simona Halep attends the multi-sport event Sports Festival held in the same city that hosts the Untold Festival, one of the top music festivals in the world.

She did so in 2022 and 2020. Only in 2023, a record number of 150.000 people celebrated sports together.

Simona Halep to be heard at CAS

Although Halep has been sentenced to 4 years of suspension from professional tennis, Halep has one more chance of making a comeback earlier if the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) rules in her favor in February when she is also going to be heard as a result of her contesting the suspension.

The results of the hearings and the overall decision should come faster from Lausanne, per Digi Sport journalist Dragos Suciu. After Simona got suspended, Chris Evert stood up for Simona and expressed her eagerness to see Halep get a positive outcome from the hearing set in February.

Evert believes the Romanian is "innocent" and blamed Simona's team for not protecting her against substances like roxadustat.

Simona Halep at the 2022 US Open. © Julian Finney / Getty Images Sport

Nevertheless, Romanian former tennis great and current billionaire Ion Tiriac has doubts that CAS will overrule the initial decision.

Halep is showing resilience, come hell or high water. She often posts short videos on her social media accounts showing her training in the gym or outside on the courts.

Most recently, she was seen preparing in Dubai, where she recently shot a commercial with an inspirational message: "The hard path is to continue, even if you don't know where it goes.

And it means to fight, even when it seems you're not winning. It's not easy, but I must face it."

Agassi and Graf are on a roll

Andre Agassi and his wife Steffi Graf are not teaming up only for the Sports Festival. On February 4, the duo will play against Maria Sharapova and John McEnroe in Pickleball Slam 2, where they'll compete for a prize of one million dollars.

The competition will take place at the world-famous Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida, and live on ESPN. Moreover, tennis and pickleball matches are not the only thing that keeps the couple together.

Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf holding their newborn son in 2001© Agassi Enterprises Inc./Getty Images

They have a 21-year-old son called Jaden Gil and a 19-year-old daughter called Jaz Elle Agassi, who made headlines after she congratulated Carlos Alcaraz for winning the 2023 Wimbledon edition.

Other than that, Agassi surprised Novak Djokovic at the currently unfolding Australian Open. Djokovic expressed his gratitude for having the tennis legend in the stands and admitted he made him lose focus.