Simona Halep shares what made her super nervous, if she felt resentment toward tennis

Halep's first tournament since the doping ban came at this week's Miami Open.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Simona Halep shares what made her super nervous, if she felt resentment toward tennis
© Getty Images Sport - Megan Briggs

Simona Halep revealed she hopped on a plane to Miami heavily stressed because she was unsure how people would welcome her back and also claimed that she never felt resentment toward tennis despite being convinced that she was unfairly suspended. 

After being cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on March 5th to return to tennis, Halep received a main draw into Miami two days later and arrived at the tournament on March 12th. By arriving in Miami exactly a week before the start of the tournament, the former world No. 1 gave herself a full week of practice in Miami but also a chance to prepare better mentally and physically for her first tournament back since the doping ban. 

When Halep stepped on the practice court in Miami, she instantly felt the support of the people and the fact that many on social media also had a positive reaction to her return made the stress instantly go away. 

On Tuesday, Halep officially got confirmation that fans absolutely love to see her back as the stadium was packed when she met Paula Badosa in the Miami first round. Despite the heavy crowd support, the two-time Grand Slam champion ended up losing 6-1 4-6 3-6 to Badosa. 

"Actually, when I was on the plane, I told my mom that I was super nervous because I didn't know what to expect from people. When you have such a difficult period, you don't know how people will see it or treat you," Halep told WTA Insider.

"But the first day, it was incredible. So then the stress went out and I didn't stress myself in this direction. I knew that on the court it's going to be good. The crowd was incredible today again. So the love I received, it's even more than anything that I had until now."

Simona Halep
Simona Halep© Getty Images Sport - Megan Briggs
 

Halep on how she avoided feeling resentment toward tennis

For Halep, the year and a half during which she was suspended was the hardest and most stressful period of her life. Throughout the period, the 32-year-old Romanian was very open about how her mental health was negatively impacted by serving a doping ban and having her name linked to some forms of cheating. 

Being given a doping ban while fully convinced that she was innocent easily could have led to Halep feeling some kind of hatred or animosity toward tennis but the former world No. 1 insists that never happened and she credits for that one wise message she received.

"No, I didn't have that darkness. People were supporting me from the first day until the last one. Seeing that the opponents supported me and they believed that I was clean gave me strength and gave me the positive to keep fighting. So no, I didn't have that," Halep said.

"One person, a very important person to me, told me that I should not hate tennis because tennis did not give me this difficult period. I was thinking about it, and I said, yeah, tennis is still my passion. I love to do this, and I will be back when I have the right decision."

Simona Halep
Simona Halep© Getty Images Sport - Megan Briggs
 

Halep on how she felt when the CAS verdict came 

After concluding her three-day doping ban appeal hearing in Lausanne, Halep left the courtroom on February 9th positive and confident that the verdict would be in her favor. When the CAS verdict came in on March 5th, exactly that happened. 

In a statement, the CAS said that Halep "bore some negligence and fault" for Roxadustat ending up in her body but underlined that it was not to the "significant" heights. Also, the two-time Grand Slam champion was cleared in her athlete biological passport charge. 

All of that led to the CAS reducing Halep's four-year doping ban to nine months and allowing her instantly return to tennis.

"I was talking to my lawyers and I was just smiling. I told them, 'Guys, the decision is correct.' I was so happy. I had tears after I finished the call with them. I was just happy that the truth came out and the decision was fair," Halep revealed.

"So, 18 months of stress were finished, and I was now able to go play tennis. Because the most difficult thing was that I was not able to go to watch a tennis match. This was a disaster for a tennis player. Because I was suspended, I could not even watch a tennis match [at a tournament]. So it was difficult."

Simona Halep
Simona Halep© Getty Images Sport - Megan Briggs
 

After making her return in Miami, Halep also signed up to represent Romania in their Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers tie against Ukraine between April 12-13. 

Halep will then turn her focus to the clay season, during which she will make her Grand Slam return at the French Open.

Simona Halep Miami Open
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