Serena Williams’ ex-coach speaks out as American throws shade at Simona Halep

Novak Djokovic says he will 'keep going' after US Open win

The former coach of Serena Williams has issued a furious response after Simona Halep was slapped with a four-year doping ban by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA). The two-time Grand Slam champion failed a drug test at the 2022 US Open and has since been subject to a lengthy investigation that has been hampered by numerous delays.

But following an independent tribunal, the ITIA confirmed on Tuesday that Halep, who had already been provisionally suspended and was unable to compete in this month’s US Open, has been banned for two separate anti-doping rule violations.

The 31-year-old has also been removed from the current WTA world rankings.

Patrick Mouratoglou, who coaches the 2019 Wimbledon champion, took to social media to deliver an emphatic defence of his client.

Posting on X (formerly Twitter), he wrote: “I cannot believe the decision that the ITIA has taken today in the case of Simona. I am extremely shocked and I have been during this whole year by the methods and the behaviour of an organisation that is supposed to treat the players fairly and try to establish the truth.”

Mouratoglou, who coached all-time great Williams from 2012 until her retirement, continued by laying out four points he wanted to make.

He said: “1. I know Simona’s integrity and I have no doubt that she has never taken any banned substance.

“2. I sat through the entire two days of hearing with her and I CANNOT believe that the tribunal has reached that decision based on the evidence and arguments that I heard.

“3. The process and the ITIA have been totally unfair to Simona and it is totally unacceptable.

“4. I hope that Simona will prevail at CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) which is the only tribunal that is not controlled by the ITIA.”

He added: “I hope that the WTA, ATP and PTPA will do their best to change a system that is destroying careers of innocent players.”

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The French coach’s fierce defence of Halep did not appear to be shared by Williams however, who lost the 2019 Wimbledon final to the Romanian 6-2, 6-2 in what was a shock result. It denied Williams what would have been a record eighth grasscourt slam title at the All England Club.

After hearing about the doping ban, the 23-time major title win made what looked like a subtle dig at Halep on social media. She wrote on X: “8 is a better number.”

Halep tested positive for banned blood-booster roxadustat in New York after the 2022 US Open. The drug increases the production of red blood cells and helps boost levels of endurance. The former world No. 1 is set to appeal the ruling.

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