Simona Halep ([siˈmona haˈlep]; born 27 September 1991) is a Romanian professional tennis player. She has been ranked world No. 1 in singles twice between 2017 and 2019. In total, she has been No. 1 for 64 weeks, which ranks tenth in the history of the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) rankings. Halep was the year-end No. 1 in 2017 and 2018. She has finished each year ranked no lower than No. 4 since 2014 and has the longest active streak of being ranked in the top 10. She has won 20 WTA singles titles and has finished runner-up 17 times. Halep has won two Grand Slam singles titles, at the 2018 French Open and the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.
Halep first broke into the world's top 50 at the end of 2011, reached the top 20 in August 2013, and then the top 10 in January 2014. She won her first six WTA titles in the same calendar year in 2013, and was the first to do so since Steffi Graf in 1986. This led to her being named the WTA Most Improved Player at the end of the year. Halep reached three Grand Slam finals at the 2014 French Open, the 2017 French Open, and the 2018 Australian Open before winning her first Grand Slam singles title at the 2018 French Open against Sloane Stephens. A former junior champion there, she became just the sixth player to win both the girls' singles and women's singles titles at the French Open. Halep also finished runner-up at the 2014 WTA Finals to Serena Williams despite inflicting the worst loss of Williams' career at that point in the round robin stage. She did not defeat Williams a second time until the final of the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.
Halep was the WTA Most Popular Player of the Year for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015, as well as the WTA Fan Favorite Singles Player of the Year for three consecutive years in 2017, 2018, and 2019. She is a recipient of the Patriarchal Cross of Romania and the Order of the Star of Romania, and was named an honorary citizen of Bucharest. She is the third Romanian to be in the top 10 of the WTA rankings after Virginia Ruzici and Irina Spîrlea, and the second Romanian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title after Ruzici. She is also the first Romanian woman to be ranked No. 1 and the first Romanian player to win a Wimbledon singles title. Halep is regarded as one of the best returners on the WTA Tour, while also building her game around being aggressive and being able to hit winners from defensive positions.
Early life and background
Simona Halep was born on 27 September 1991 in Constanța, Romania to Stere and Tania Halep, who are of Aromanian descent. She has a brother Nicolae who is five and a half years older. Halep's father played lower-division football for AS Săgeata Stejaru and worked as a zootechnics technician before becoming the owner of a dairy products factory. He developed an interest in supporting his children's athletic ventures as a consequence of wondering how far he would have progressed as a footballer if his parents could have provided him with more financial support when he was growing up. When Halep was four years old, she started playing tennis after attending one of her brother's training sessions. Although her brother stopped playing the sport after a few years, Halep began practising twice a week with local coach Ioan Stan until she was six, from which point on she practised daily. Although she focused on tennis, she also played football and handball while growing up. As a teenager, she was partly sponsored by Corneliu Idu, the owner of the leading tennis club in Constanța. When Halep was sixteen, she moved away from her family to train in the much larger city of Bucharest, the Romanian capital.
Halep is a former world No. 1 junior. She began playing on the ITF Junior Circuit in 2005 at the age of 13 and finished runner-up at the low-level Grade 4 Mamaia-Sen Junior ITF Tournament in Romania in her second career event. The following year, Halep won all four ITF singles events she entered, including the Mamaia-Sen tournament which was reclassified to mid-level Grade 3. She also represented Romania at the Junior Fed Cup that year alongside Irina-Camelia Begu and Andreea Mitu. The team finished in ninth place. Halep moved up to higher-level events in 2007 and won her first and only Grade 1 title at the Perin Memorial in Umag in April. She also made her junior Grand Slam debut that year, losing in the third round at the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.
Halep improved her junior Grand Slam performance in 2008, her last year on the junior tour. She entered just four events that year. In Australia, she finished runner-up to Arantxa Rus at Nottinghill and then lost to Australian Jessica Moore in the semifinals of the Australian Open. After focusing on professional tournaments, Halep returned to the junior circuit in May and won her first Grade A title at the Trofeo Bonfiglio without dropping a set. She then finished her junior career by winning her only junior Grand Slam title at the French Open. As the ninth seed, she defeated the fifth-seed Moore and the second-seed Rus en route to reaching the final without losing a set. Halep defeated compatriot Elena Bogdan in three sets in the final to become the second Romanian girl to win a junior Grand Slam singles title after Mariana Simionescu won the 1974 French Open. With the title, she also became the top-ranked junior in the world.
2006–10: Top 100 debut
Halep turned pro in 2006 and started her professional career playing low-level $10K ITF Women's Circuit events in Romania in 2006 and 2007. She won both her first two ITF singles and doubles titles in back-to-back weeks in Bucharest in May 2007. After accomplishing this feat a third time the following year, Halep won her first $25K singles title in Sweden in June 2008. She began playing more higher-level events once she finished her junior career, reaching a $50K final in 2009 in Makarska. Halep also attempted to qualify for WTA events twice that year, losing in the second qualifying round at both the Open GDF Suez and the French Open. Towards the end of the season, she defeated No. 96 Angelique Kerber for her first top 100 victory and also reached the semifinals of a $50K event in Minsk to make her debut in the top 200 of the WTA rankings.
Halep made her WTA main-draw debut in April 2010, qualifying for three consecutive events. In her first WTA tournament, she reached the quarterfinals at the Andalucia Tennis Experience, defeating compatriot and world No. 36, Sorana Cîrstea before losing to No. 16, Flavia Pennetta. At her third event, Halep made her first career WTA final, finishing runner-up at the Morocco Open to Iveta Benešová. This success helped her rise from No. 166 at the beginning of April to No. 110 in the first set of rankings in May. Later that month, Halep made her Grand Slam debut at the French Open, losing her opening round match in straight sets to No. 7, Samantha Stosur after reaching the main draw through qualifying. After losing in qualifying at Wimbledon, Halep made her top 100 debut in July following a semifinal at the $100K Open GDF Suez de Biarritz. With her rise in the rankings, she was directly accepted into a Grand Slam main draw at the first time at the US Open, where she was drawn against No. 4, Jelena Janković, another top-ten opponent. Unlike at the French Open, Halep won the second set and had a chance to serve for the match at 5–4 in the third, but ultimately lost that game and the match, which lasted two hours and twenty minutes in severe heat. Halep's best result of the year after the US Open was a final at the $100K Torhout Ladies Open, which helped her finish the season with a year-end ranking of No. 81 in the world.
2011–12: Steady ranking, top 50
Halep played almost exclusively WTA Tour events in 2011. She won her first career Grand Slam matches at the Australian Open, defeating Anne Kremer and No. 23 Alisa Kleybanova to reach the third round. During the clay court season, Halep defended her runner-up finish at the Morocco Open from the previous year, again losing in the final, this time to Alberta Brianti. Nonetheless, she struggled in the other clay court tournaments, only recording one more match win, which came in the opening round at the 2011 French Open. She also reached the second round at Wimbledon, losing in three sets to seventh-seed and defending champion Serena Williams. During the US Open Series, Halep qualified for the Rogers Cup and recorded her first top 20 victory against No. 15 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round. At the US Open, Halep then recorded her first top 10 victory over No. 6 Li Na in her opening match, despite playing with an ankle sprain she suffered at the Rogers Cup. Despite a loss to Carla Suárez Navarro in the next round, this result put Halep in the top 50 for the first time. She finished the year at No. 47 in the world.
Halep maintained a steady ranking throughout 2012, rising no higher than No. 37, falling no lower than No. 63, and finishing the year at No. 47 for the second consecutive year. She won just one Grand Slam singles match all year, which came at the US Open. She won more than two matches at an event just twice, the first at the Morocco Open where she made the semifinals in April and the second at the Brussels Open where she made the final in May. Although Halep defeated top seed Anabel Medina Garrigues in Morocco, she was upset by qualifier Kiki Bertens, who prevented her from reaching a third straight final at the event. The final in Brussels was Halep's first at the Premier level. She defeated No. 21 Jelena Jankovic and No. 16 Dominika Cibulková before losing to top seed and world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwańska.
2013: Breakthrough, six WTA titles, world No. 11
Halep had a slow start to the year, only winning multiple matches at a tournament once before May. Her first breakthrough came at the Italian Open, where she reached the semifinals as a qualifier. She defeated three top 20 players at the Premier 5 event, including No. 4 Agnieszka Radwańska, before losing to world No. 1 Serena Williams who was on a 23-match win streak. Halep continued to struggle at the Grand Slams, losing in the opening round at both the Australian Open and the French Open, while making the second round at Wimbledon. Nonetheless, she began to dominate the lower level tournaments, winning her first three WTA titles at the International level across June and July. Her first two titles came in back-to-back weeks at the Nuremberg Cup on clay over Andrea Petkovic and at the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships on grass over Kirsten Flipkens. After a third title at the Budapest Grand Prix, she climbed up to No. 23 in the world.
Halep won her fourth title at the New Haven Open, defeating No. 8, Caroline Wozniacki and No. 9, Petra Kvitová in the semifinals and final respectively. This was her first title at the Premier level and put her in the top 20 for the first time. Halep continued her success at the US Open, where she was seeded at a Grand Slam event for the first time at No. 21. She made it to the fourth round, her best result at a Grand Slam event to date. Halep won a fifth title at the Premier-level Kremlin Cup, defeating Stosur in the final. At the end of the season, she qualified for the WTA Tournament of Champions, an event for the highest-ranked WTA title-holders who did not qualify for the WTA Finals. Halep won this event as well, defeating No. 16 Ana Ivanovic and No. 19 Stosur in the knockout rounds. With her sixth WTA title, she finished the year at No. 11 in the world and was named the WTA Most Improved Player of the Year. She was second on the tour in singles titles behind only Serena Williams who had 11, and was the first woman to win her first six WTA titles in the same season since Steffi Graf in 1986. Halep attributed her improvement to developing a more positive mindset, saying, "What changed was that I allowed myself to be relaxed on the court by taking the pressure off. I told myself to enjoy it and play with pleasure."
2014: French Open final, world No. 2
Halep greatly improved her Grand Slam results in 2014. She reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open with a victory over No. 8, Jelena Janković, where she was upset by No. 20, Dominika Cibulková. With this result, Halep made her debut in the top 10 of the WTA rankings. The next month, Halep won her first Premier 5 title at the Qatar Open, defeating three top 10 opponents in the last three rounds, including No. 9 Angelique Kerber in the final. After a semifinal at the Indian Wells Open, she rose to No. 5 in the world, making her the highest-ranked Romanian in the history of the WTA rankings. During the clay court season, Halep reached the two biggest finals of her career to date. She finished runner-up to Maria Sharapova at both the Premier Mandatory Madrid Open and the French Open. She had not lost a set before the French Open final, making her the first woman to reach her maiden Grand Slam final without dropping a set since Martina Hingis at the 1997 Australian Open. Both finals went to three sets, and the French Open final lasted over three hours. With these two runner-ups, Halep moved up to No. 3.
The next month, Halep came close to another Grand Slam final at Wimbledon, but was upset in the semifinals by No. 13, Eugenie Bouchard, after suffering an ankle injury in the first set. Nonetheless, she recovered in time to play inaugural Bucharest Open in her home country of Romania a week later. She won the event for her second and last title of the year, defeating Roberta Vinci in the final. This helped her rise to No. 2 in the world in August. Although she was the second seed at the US Open, she was upset in straight sets by veteran qualifier Mirjana Lučić-Baroni. The next month, she withdrew from the Beijing Open in the quarterfinals due to a hip injury. She did not play another event until the WTA Tour Championships, where she qualified for the first time. Halep won two of three matches in her round robin group to advance to the knockout rounds, defeating No. 5, Eugenie Bouchard and No. 1, Serena Williams before losing her last match to No. 7, Ana Ivanovic. The victory over Williams was her first over a current world No. 1 and was also tied for the most lopsided loss of Williams' career at the time, as Halep held her to just two games. Halep won her semifinal against No. 6 Agnieszka Radwanska to set up a rematch with Williams in the final. In a complete reversal of the round robin match, Williams won the final easily, limiting Halep to just three games. Halep finished the year at No. 3 in the world, behind Williams and Sharapova.
2015: Premier Mandatory title, US Open semifinal
Halep had a strong start to 2015, reaching at least the quarterfinals in her first six events. After a title in her first event of the year at the Shenzhen Open, she lost in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open for the second straight year, this time to No. 11, Ekaterina Makarova. Nonetheless, Halep rebounded to win her next two events, the Dubai Tennis Championships and the Indian Wells Open. The former was her second Premier 5 title and tenth WTA title in total, while the latter was her first Premier Mandatory title and biggest title to date. She extended her win streak to 14 matches at the Miami Open where she lost in the semifinals to world No. 1, Serena Williams. Halep did not reach any finals during the clay court season, with her best results being two semifinals at the Stuttgart Open and the Italian Open. She was two points away from advancing to the final in Rome, but could not break Carla Suárez Navarro at 5–4 in the third set and ended up losing. In the second round of the French Open, she was upset by Mirjana Lučić-Baroni for the second time in the last three majors. She performed even worse at Wimbledon, being upset by No. 106 Jana Čepelová while struggling with a blister on her foot.
After Wimbledon, Halep took more than a month off before returning to tournament play for the North American hard court season. She rebounded from her results off the hard courts and finished runner-up at both Premier 5 events in August, the Canadian Open and the Cincinnati Open. Halep had won the second set of the final in Canada against Belinda Bencic, but ultimately needed to retire midway through the third set due to heat illness two and a half hours into the match. She recovered in time to play Cincinnati, but lost in the final to world No. 1 Serena Williams. Halep then produced her best Grand Slam result of the year, a semifinal at the US Open. She was upset at the event by the eventual champion and No. 26, Flavia Pennetta. At the end of the season, Halep qualified for the WTA Finals and became the top seed at the event after Williams withdrew. Although she defeated Pennetta in her opening match, she lost her last two round robin matches to No. 4, Maria Sharapova and No. 6, Agnieszka Radwańska and did not advance out of the group. Nonetheless, she finished the season with a career-best year-end ranking of No. 2 in the world.
2016: Premier Mandatory title on clay
Halep underperformed at the Grand Slam events in 2016. She also had a slow start to the year, highlighted by an opening round loss at the Australian Open to qualifier Zhang Shuai who had not won a Grand Slam match in 14 attempts. She dealt with both an achilles injury and infections in the first two months of the season, and delayed nose surgery so she could play in the Fed Cup. In March, Halep lost in the quarterfinals at both Premier Mandatory events, the Indian Wells Open and the Miami Open. Having reached at least the semifinals at both events the previous year, she fell out of the top 5 in the rankings for the first time in over a year and a half. During the clay-court season, Halep won her second career Premier Mandatory title, defeating Dominika Cibulková in the final of the Madrid Open to return to the top 5. She did not continue this form into the French Open, losing to Samantha Stosur in the fourth round in a controversial match where play continued in rainy conditions. Halep fared better at Wimbledon, losing to eventual runner-up No. 4 Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals.
Halep followed up Wimbledon with back-to-back titles at the Bucharest Open and the Canadian Open, her last two titles of the year. She also made her first career WTA doubles final at the Canadian Open, finishing runner-up to Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina alongside compatriot Monica Niculescu. In singles, Halep was able to defeat Kerber in Canada in the semifinals, and won in the final against No. 12 Madison Keys. However, she lost to Kerber in the semifinals at her next event, the Cincinnati Open. At the US Open, Halep made another Grand Slam quarterfinal, losing to world No. 1, Serena Williams in a tight three-set match. Her best result of the last stage of the year was a semifinal at the Wuhan Open, where she lost to eventual champion Petra Kvitová. For the second straight year, Halep ended the season by failing to advance out of her round robin group at the WTA Finals. After a win against No. 7 Keys and a loss to No. 1 Kerber, Halep only needed to win a set against No. 8 Cibulková to advance, but lost in straight sets. She finished the season ranked No. 4 in the world.
2017: Another French Open final, world No. 1
For the second straight season, Halep had a slow start to the year. She once again lost in the opening round at the Australian Open to Shelby Rogers and did not win multiple matches at an event until the Miami Open in late March where she made the quarterfinals. During this time, she was having issues with her left knee. Halep rebounded during the clay court season, reaching at least the semifinals at all four events she entered. She defended her title at the Madrid Open to secure a Premier Mandatory title for the third consecutive year. She also made the final the following week at the Premier 5 Italian Open, but finished runner-up to No. 11 Elina Svitolina. At the French Open, she faced Svitolina again in the quarterfinals and fell behind a set and 5–1 before coming from behind to take the second set in a tiebreak and ultimately win the match. She also needed to save a match point in the second set tiebreak. Halep defeated world No. 3 Karolína Plíšková in the semifinals in three sets to make her second final at the French Open. Heavily favoured against unseeded Jeļena Ostapenko, Halep led the final by a set and a break before Ostapenko came from behind to win in three sets. With the runner-up, she moved back to No. 2 in the world. At Wimbledon, Halep lost in the quarterfinals to British No. 1 Johanna Konta, who had defeated her earlier in the year at Miami as well. With Serena Williams falling out of the top 10 following Wimbledon, Halep became the longest-tenured member of the WTA top 10.
Halep continued to produce strong results in the second half of the season. She made it to the semifinals at the Canadian Open, losing again to Svitolina. She fared better at the Cincinnati Open, finishing runner-up to Garbiñe Muguruza. However, at the US Open, Halep was given a difficult draw in the first round against former champion Maria Sharapova, who was unseeded because she was returning from a doping suspension. Sharapova defeated Halep in three sets, ending her streak of reaching the quarterfinals at 10 consecutive events. Nonetheless, Halep rebounded and reached another Premier 5 final at the China Open. She defeated Sharapova during the event, but finished runner-up to No. 15 Caroline Garcia. Despite the loss, Halep became the world No. 1 for the first time, taking the ranking from Muguruza. She is the first Romanian woman to hold the No. 1 ranking, and the seventh to do so without having first won a Grand Slam tournament. At the 2017 WTA Finals, Halep could not advance out of her round robin group for the third consecutive year. After a win against No. 8 Garcia and a loss to No. 6 Wozniacki, Halep needed to defeat No. 4 Svitolina to advance, but lost in straight sets. She finished the season as the world No. 1.
2018: French Open champion, Australian Open runner-up
Halep kept the No. 1 ranking for nearly the entire year, only losing it for four weeks in February. She began the season by winning both the singles and doubles titles at the Shenzhen Open. This was her first WTA doubles title and came alongside compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu against the top-seeded team of Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková. She also defeated Siniakova in the singles final.
Having not won a match at the Australian Open in three years, Halep made it all the way to her third Grand Slam final. During the event, she played two of the ten best matches of the year according to Tennis.com. In the third round, Halep defeated Lauren Davis in a three-hour and forty-five minute match that ended 15–13 in the third set. She needed to save three match points on her serve at 11–12. Halep and Davis tied the Australian Open record for most games played in the women's singles main draw match with 48. It was also the third longest women's singles match in Australian Open history. The match was ranked as the third-best women's match of the year and seventh-best overall. In the semifinals, Halep defeated No. 16, Angelique Kerber in a two-hour and twenty minute match that ended 9–7 in the third set. After being broken while having a chance to serve the match at 5–3 in the final set, Halep had two break points for the match on Kerber's serve but could not convert. Kerber then broke Halep for a second consecutive service game and had two match points on her own serve, before Halep broke back to level the set at six games each. Halep would break Kerber two service games later on her second match point of the game. The match was ranked as the best women's match of the year and third best overall. Halep faced No. 2, Caroline Wozniacki in the final and lost in another tight three-set match, also losing the No. 1 ranking to Wozniacki. Halep reached two more hard court semifinals in the next two months at the Qatar Open and the Indian Wells Open. She regained the No. 1 ranking in late February.
Halep did not win any titles on clay in the lead-up to the French Open, with her best result being a runner-up finish at the Italian Open to Elina Svitolina in a rematch of the previous year's final. Karolina Plíšková ended Halep's 15-match win steak at the Madrid Open in the quarterfinals. At the French Open, Halep made her second Grand Slam final in a row and second consecutive French Open final, defeating No. 12 Angelique Kerber and No. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza in the quarterfinals and semifinals. She then came from a set and a break down against No. 10 Sloane Stephens to win her first career Grand Slam title. She became just the sixth player to win both the girls' singles title and the women's singles title at the French Open, as well as the fourth woman to win a Grand Slam singles title after three or more runner-ups. The only grass court event Halep played was Wimbledon, where she was upset by world No. 48 Hsieh Su-wei despite having a match point.
Halep continued her success on hard courts after Wimbledon, reaching the final at both the Canadian Open and the Cincinnati Open. She won the Canadian Open against Stephens in three sets in a rematch of the French Open final. The match was ranked as the second-best women's match of the year and the fifth-best overall. Together with her two Australian Open classics, Halep won the three best women's matches of the year according to Tennis.com. She nearly won back-to-back Premier 5 titles the following week, but finished runner-up to No. 17 Kiki Bertens despite having a match point in the second-set tiebreak. However, Halep would end up losing her last three matches of the year, including her opening match at the US Open against No. 44 Kaia Kanepi. She ended her season in late September after dealing with an achilles injury and then a back injury.
2019: Wimbledon champion
Halep recovered from her back injury in time for the start of the 2019 season. She lost her first match back at the Sydney International to the eventual champion Ashleigh Barty. She received a difficult draw at the Australian Open and lost in the fourth round to Serena Williams, who had finished runner-up at the previous two Grand Slam events. With this result, she also lost the No. 1 ranking. Halep finished runner-up to Elise Mertens at her next event, the Qatar Open. She made another hard court semifinal at the Miami Open. Halep's best result on clay was another final at the Madrid Open, where she lost to Kiki Bertens. For the first time in three years, she didn't make it to the final at the French Open, losing in the quarterfinals to Amanda Anisimova. As a result, Halep fell to No. 8 in the rankings.
Halep played in one grass court tune-up, losing in the quarterfinals of the Eastbourne International to Angelique Kerber. At Wimbledon, Halep made it to the final as the seventh seed, only dropping one set in the second round against compatriot Mihaela Buzărnescu. She did not face a seeded opponent until she defeated No. 8 Elina Svitolina in the semifinals. Halep entered the final against Serena Williams as an underdog, having won just one match against her in ten meetings. Nonetheless, she won the championship easily in under an hour, losing just two games in each set, and committing only 3 unforced errors in the entire match, the fewest ever recorded in a Grand Slam final. She became the first Romanian to win a Wimbledon singles title and rose back to world No. 4.
After Wimbledon, Halep only played the two Premier 5 tournaments in the lead-up to the US Open, retiring in the quarterfinals of the Canadian Open and losing in third round to eventual champion Madison Keys at the Cincinnati Open. Although she won her first round match at the US Open for the first time in three years, she was upset in the following round by Taylor Townsend. Halep closed out her season at the WTA Finals, where she reunited with coach Darren Cahill. After opening with a victory over No. 4 Bianca Andreescu, she did not advance out of her round robin group after losing to No. 8 Elina Svitolina and No. 2 Karolína Plíšková. She finished the season at No. 4 in the world.
Halep started the 2020 WTA Tour at the new tournament in Adelaide, where she defeated Ajla Tomljanovic, but lost in the quarterfinals to Aryna Sabalenka. At the 2020 Australian Open, Halep reached the semifinals, where she lost to Garbine Muguruza, after having defeated Jennifer Brady, Harriet Dart, Yulia Putintseva, Elise Mertens, and Anett Kontaveit.
2010–14: Five years in Europe/Africa Zone Group I
Halep made her debut for the Romania Fed Cup team in 2010 when they were in the third-tier Europe/Africa Zone Group I. They needed to win all three of the ties in their round robin pool to have a chance to get promoted to the next tier. From 2010 through 2012, they only won two out of three ties, and in 2013, they only won one tie. Halep played on the team in 2010, 2012, and 2014 when they were in this group. She won all three of her singles matches in 2010 and 2012, but lost a decisive doubles match in both ties Romania lost. Halep had partnered with Raluca Olaru in their loss against Switzerland in 2010, and Irina-Camelia Begu in their loss against Poland in 2012. In 2014, Romania swept their group of Hungary, Great Britain, and Latvia. They won in spite of Halep's first Fed Cup singles loss to Tímea Babos against Hungary. They then won a playoff against Ukraine, with Halep and Sorana Cîrstea winning the two singles rubbers, to advance to the World Group II Play-offs. In the Play-offs, Romania defeated Serbia by a score of 4–1 to get promoted to World Group II in 2015. Halep and Cîrstea each played two singles rubbers, with Halep suffering the only loss against Ana Ivanovic.
2015–18: Promotions to World Group II and World Group
With the promotion, Romania faced Spain in the 2015 World Group II in a home tie. Halep and Begu both defeated Sílvia Soler Espinosa, while both losing to Garbiñe Muguruza. Begu and Monica Niculescu then won the decisive doubles rubber to win the tie for Romania. Although Halep decided to skip the World Group Play-off tie to rest and Begu also unavailable due to injury, Romania defeated Canada in an away tie by a score of 3–2 to advance to the top-tier World Group in 2016. Halep postponed having nose surgery to make her Fed Cup World Group debut in the first round against the defending champion Czech Republic team at home in Cluj. Halep lost the first match of the tie to Karolína Plíšková, despite taking the first set. Niculescu then defeated Petra Kvitová to level the tie. On the second day, Halep also defeated Kvitová. After Niculescu lost to Plíšková, the Czech team of Plíšková and Barbora Strýcová defeated Niculescu and Olaru in the decisive doubles rubber to win the tie. Romania's next tie came against Germany in the World Group Play-offs. Germany won three of the four singles rubbers, with Halep losing her second singles match to Angelique Kerber, to relegate Romania back to World Group II for 2017.
Halep missed Romania's first Fed Cup tie in 2017 due to injury. Romania lost the tie to Belgium, sending them to the World Group II Play-offs where they played a tie against Great Britain to avoid relegation. Halep was instrumental in Romania winning the tie 3–2 to keep them in World Group II for 2018. She won both of her singles matches against Heather Watson and Johanna Konta to give Romania 2–1 lead. Begu then clinched the tie with a win over Watson in the last singles rubber. Although Halep missed the 2018 World Group II tie due to injury, Romania won the tie against Canada to advance back to the World Group Play-offs. Facing Switzerland, Romania took the first three singles rubbers, with Halep winning two and Begu winning the other, to secure the tie and get promoted back to the top-tier World Group for 2019.
2019: World Group semifinal
Romania reached the semifinals of the World Group in 2019 for the first time since 1973, their best ever result. Like their last appearance in the World Group three years earlier, they were drawn against the defending champion Czech Republic team, who hosted the tie unlike in 2016. Halep and Mihaela Buzărnescu played the singles ties against Karolína Plíšková and Kateřina Siniaková. Halep won both of her rubbers, while Buzărnescu lost both of hers. In the decisive doubles rubber, Begu and Niculescu defeated Siniaková and Barbora Krejčíková to win the tie and put Romania in the semifinals. Romania faced France in the semifinals away from home. The tie began similarly to the first round, with Halep winning her two singles matches and Buzărnescu losing her first. Begu was chosen for the last singles rubber, but lost in three sets. Halep and Niculescu played the decisive doubles rubber against Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic. After winning the first set, the Romanians lost the match in three sets in nearly three hours to clinch the tie for France.
Halep has represented Romania at the 2012 Olympics in London. With a ranking of No. 50 in the world, she lost her opening round match to No. 47 Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan in straight sets. She skipped the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro due to concerns over the Zika virus. Halep is set to be the flag bearer for Romania at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Halep has described herself as an aggressive baseliner. Her tennis idol and former world No. 1 Justine Henin has said, " [Halep] has an intelligent game. There is a little something that reminds me of myself... it is offensive and aggressive." Halep also has excellent defensive skills and great court coverage. Around the time of her breakthrough in 2013, she transitioned from being a grinder who primarily scrambles to get a lot of balls back in play to someone who plays more aggressively. Journalist Louisa Thomas has compared her improved style of play to that of Novak Djokovic as someone who can hit strong but simple winners from defensive positions where opponents would expect a less aggressive shot. She can hit winners both cross-court and down-the-line. During points, Halep strives to disrupt her opponent's rhythm. She uses her speed and anticipation to set up powerful shots rather than just extend points. Her fluidity and balance have been credited as the basis for this style of play that is both aggressive and defensive.
Halep's favourite surface is clay. She was described as "no one’s idea of a grass-court player [before Wimbledon]" after winning the title there in 2019. Halep has had success on all surfaces, winning 10 hard court titles in 18 finals, 7 clay court titles in 16 finals, and both of her grass court finals. Although she prefers clay, Halep has a record of just 3–7 in finals at Premier 5, Premier Mandatory, and Grand Slam events on this surface. She has fared better in high-level finals on hard courts, compiling a record of 5–7 across those three tournament tiers and the WTA Finals. She has won a Grand Slam title on clay and grass courts but not hard courts, coming closest with her runner-up finish at the 2018 Australian Open.
Halep is one of the best returners on the WTA Tour. She finished the 2018 season ranked first in percentage of first serve return points won at 42.9%, fourth in percentage of second serve return points won at 60.8%, first in percentage of return games won at 48.5%, and ninth in percentage of break points won at 50.1% among all players with at least ten matches. She is not ranked as highly in serving, in part due to her short stature at 1.68 m (5 ft 6 in). Nonetheless, she was ranked 21st in percentage of service points won in 2018 among players with at least ten matches.
As a junior, Halep was coached by Ioan Stan in Constanța. She began working with Firicel Tomai in 2008. After five years, she switched coaches to Adrian Marcu, a former top 200 player. During this time, she also worked with Andrei Mlendea. Despite having a breakthrough year with six titles in 2013, Halep left Marcu at the end of the season. She hired Wim Fissette, a former coach of Kim Clijsters, at the start of 2014. Fissette was the first coach she worked with who wasn't Romanian. Under Fissette, Halep made her first Grand Slam final at the 2014 French Open. Nonetheless, she switched coaches at the end of the season to another Romanian coach, Victor Ioniță, who was also a former top 200 player. Veteran coach Thomas Högstedt also served as a consultant early in the year.
At the start of 2016, Halep began working with Darren Cahill, a former top 25 player from Australia. In three years with Cahill, Halep finished two seasons with the No. 1 ranking, reached three Grand Slam finals, and won her first Grand Slam title at the 2018 French Open. Cahill left her team after the 2018 season to spend more time with his family. After beginning 2019 without a coach, Halep hired Romanian Daniel Dobre in March. Dobre had trained to be a coach under Günther Bosch, the former coach of Boris Becker. With Dobre as her coach, Halep won her second Grand Slam title at 2019 Wimbledon. Halep's longtime fitness coach is Teo Cercel, who she has worked with since she was a junior. In the autumn of 2019, she announced the return of Darren Cahill as coach, and the two started working together again at the WTA finals.
Halep's clothing sponsor has been Nike since February 2018. She signed a $1.7 million deal a few weeks after competing at the 2018 Australian Open without a sponsor and finishing as the runner-up. Halep did not have a sponsor because her deal with Adidas, which began in May 2014, ended at the start of the year. She had also previously been sponsored by Lacoste. Halep uses Wilson rackets, specifically the Blade 98 model.
Halep is sponsored by a variety of Romanian brands. She had a three-year deal with Vodafone Romania that began in November 2014. She appeared in commercials for Vodafone with her mother as part of their "Românii au iniţiativă" (Romanians have initiative) campaign. She also has appeared in Romanian commercials for Rexona, an international antiperspirant company. Halep endorses Dorna, a Romanian brand of water produced by Coca-Cola Romania, and has also participated in their "Grija pentru copii" (Care for children) campaign to provide care for babies born prematurely. Halep is also sponsored by Dedeman, the largest Romanian home improvement chain. She has been a brand ambassador for the Mercedes-Benz Romania automobile manufacturing company since 2017, and internationally for Hublot watches since 2016.
Halep is very popular in her home country of Romania. Journalist Adrian Toca has said, "Simona is without a doubt the biggest sports star in Romania". After Halep won Grand Slam titles at the 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon, she was welcomed back to Romania with large celebrations at the Arena Națională in Bucharest. About 15,000 people attended the celebration after the 2018 French Open title and about 30,000 people attended after her 2019 Wimbledon triumph. Romanian International Tennis Hall of Famer and businessman Ion Țiriac presided over the Wimbledon celebration, which was attended by several of the most notable athletes in the country's history including footballer Gheorghe Hagi and Olympic gold medal gymnast Nadia Comăneci. Halep has also been named a cetățean de onoare, an honorary citizen of Bucharest. She has been awarded the Patriarchal Cross of Romania and the Order of the Star of Romania. Halep is also popular worldwide. She was named the WTA Most Popular Player of the Year in 2014 and 2015 for being the most-clicked player on the WTA website. She was also named the WTA Fan Favorite Singles Player for three consecutive years in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Halep's tennis idols growing up were former world No. 1 Justine Henin and compatriot Andrei Pavel. She has said, "I liked [Henin's] style because she was playing very aggressively and she moved very well around the court. I’ve tried to take a few things from her and apply them to my game." Her main sporting idol was Gheorghe Hagi, who is regarded as the best footballer in Romanian history. Halep first met Hagi when she was nine years old and took a photo with him after he played a tennis match at the same facility where she was training. Halep is a big fan of football and is also an experienced player, saying, "I played a lot of football when I was a kid, on the street with my cousins and my brother." She supports the Romania national team, and admires both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Halep underwent breast reduction surgery at the age of 17 primarily to improve "her ability to react quickly" as a tennis player. While she has said "I would have gone for surgery even if I hadn’t been a sportswoman", she has also called this surgery the biggest sacrifice she made to become a world No. 1 player.
|Grand Slam tournaments|
|Australian Open||A||Q1||3R||1R||1R||QF||QF||1R||1R||F||4R||SF||0 / 10||24–10||71%|
|French Open||Q2||1R||2R||1R||1R||F||2R||4R||F||W||QF||1 / 10||28–9||76%|
|Wimbledon||A||Q2||2R||1R||2R||SF||1R||QF||QF||3R||W||1 / 9||24–8||75%|
|US Open||A||1R||2R||2R||4R||3R||SF||QF||1R||1R||2R||0 / 10||17–10||63%|
|Win–Loss||0–0||0–2||5–4||1–4||4–4||17–4||10–4||11–4||10–4||15–3||15–3||5–1||2 / 39||93–37||72%|
|Titles||0||0||0||0||6||2||3||3||1||3||1||1||Career total: 20|
|Finals||0||1||1||1||6||5||5||3||5||6||3||1||Career total: 37|
|Australian Open||1R||1R||1R||1R||A||0 / 4||0–4||0%|
|French Open||1R||2R||1R||A||A||0 / 3||1–2||33%|
|Wimbledon||1R||1R||1R||A||1R||0 / 4||0–4||0%|
|US Open||2R||1R||1R||A||A||0 / 3||1–3||25%|
|Win–Loss||1–4||1–3||0–4||0–1||0–1||0 / 14||2–13||13%|
Grand Slam tournament finals
Singles: 5 (2 titles, 3 runner-ups)
|Loss||2014||French Open||Clay||Maria Sharapova||4–6, 7–6, 4–6|
|Loss||2017||French Open||Clay||Jeļena Ostapenko||6–4, 4–6, 3–6|
|Loss||2018||Australian Open||Hard||Caroline Wozniacki||6–7, 6–3, 4–6|
|Win||2018||French Open||Clay||Sloane Stephens||3–6, 6–4, 6–1|
|Win||2019||Wimbledon||Grass||Serena Williams||6–2, 6–2|