How Serena Williams’ former coach brought Simona Halep back from the brink of tennis retirement
Serena Williams had a rocky 2017-18 season. She had a difficult and disappointing end to the year, but it didn’t stop her from setting world records and becoming the most decorated female athlete in history. The year started out well, but it ended badly. Williams’ team of coaches brought her back from the brink of retirement in the second half of 2018. The following is a timeline of their efforts.
The first sign of trouble came when Williams was suspended for 12 weeks for missing the World No. 1 ranking cutoff that was necessary for her to compete in the Fed Cup, an international team tennis competition. This caused Williams to be dropped from the Top 20 player at the end of January, and her ranking plummeted. Her next tournament was the AIA, where she finished fourth in the world, the worst ranking of the year. Williams was upset by French Open champion Elina Svitolina. She had a 5-set loss to Svitolina that left her thinking she could no longer compete at the highest level. She won the US Open again in September, beating Madison Keys in the final. She got her first win over a top-ranked player, but lost to Serena in the final of the Western & Southern Open. She picked up a record fifth title at the Australian Open this season, when she beat Maria Sharapova in the final. She lost in the semifinals at the French Open, but won the US Open after a lengthy and controversial match against Karolina Pliskova. In October, she won the French Open. She was named The Associated Press Athlete of the Year at the US Open.
Williams had another rough weekend, playing the Wimbledon Championships in a two-hour match with Serena Williams. Williams was upset by Kristina Mladenovic, and then lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the second round of the Australian Open. The two were supposed to play again in the semifinals, but it became an argument.