Simona Halep had a choice to make a decade ago between her body and her tennis career. According to The Sun, the French Open junior champion was born with size 34DD breasts, which she says got in the way of her movement on the court. By 2009, the Romanian decided to reduce them to 34C.
“It’s the weight that troubles me. My ability to react quickly, my breasts make me uncomfortable when I play,” she said. “I didn’t like them in my everyday life, either. I would have gone for surgery even if I hadn’t been a sportswoman.”
In the last decade, her rise has been steady. By 2011, she was able to qualify for each Grand Slam tournament. By 2014, she made her first major final, which was a competitive 3-set loss to Maria Sharapova at the French Open. She would reach two more finals before breaking through in 2018 with a title at Roland Garros over Sloane Stephens.
As she told Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated in 2018, she still sees the procedure as the biggest sacrifice of her career, as well as one that allowed her the last decade of success.
“When I did it, I did it for tennis,” she said when she ascended to the No. 1 player in the WTA. “Maybe doing that was really important to today be No. 1.”
Her former coach Wim Fissette says that he hopes the attention will be her performance on the court, rather than the story about her body. Per The Sun:
I did not know her then, but I have seen some photos.
“She took that decision and it was a good one. I understand that it’s what a lot of people know her for.
“But let’s hope she will win a Grand Slam and then they will start talking about that instead.”
She faces off against Serena Williams at 9 a.m. Eastern time on ESPN. Let’s take a look at that matchup.
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Halep's amazing sacrifice to reach top saw her have breast reduction https://t.co/8dIrZa0FNi
— Sun Sport (@SunSport) July 13, 2019
Serena Williams has dominated her Wimbledon finals opponent Simona Halep in their head-to-head matchups to date. Williams has a 9-1 advantage over Halep, according to MatchStat. The two have not squared off at Wimbledon since 2011 when Williams survived three sets in a second-round matchup.
The last two meetings came at Grand Slam tournaments. Williams needed three sets to advance past the Round of 16 at this year’s Australian Open. She won 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 over the 27-year-old Romanian in the quarterfinals of the 2016 U.S. Open. Halep’s only victory in the 10 meetings came at a round-robin at the 2014 WTA Finals.
Overall, Williams has won 23 Grand Slams. If she continues her trend against Halep on Saturday, she will tie Margaret Court for most Grand Slam singles titles with 24. Serena has also won 14 doubles and two mixed doubles titles.
Despite the lack of success in the previous meetings, Halep insisted that her focus is on Wimbledon rather than Williams.
“I’m desperate to win Wimbledon more than to stop her,” she told the Telegraph. “I will focus on myself.”
Halep has focused on molding her body the last decade to be the best player she can be. She may need the best performance of her career to prevail against one of the best to ever play the game.