How Serena Williams’ former coach brought Simona Halep back from the brink of tennis retirement
Updated 12:07 am, Friday, May 12, 2016
NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williams is having a breakthrough. Her career has taken her from the brink of retirement to the top of the sport, an era where a sportswoman’s personal demons sometimes seem larger than life.
In her book “Unbreakable,” Williams tells the story of the fall from grace that saw her suddenly decline a full year of playing tennis at Wimbledon. Then, just eight days after the final, Williams found herself training with her former coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, inside of the French Open women’s tournament. “He came out to talk with me,” Williams writes. “I saw the two of us in his car, and I told him, ‘I’m going to have to take a pass at this for a while.’ “
Six weeks later, she made a surprising return to the women’s singles final of the French Open.
Mouratoglou, who has coached Williams since 2007, is well-known in tennis circles. He coached Venus Williams as she achieved her breakthrough in the late ’80s. He also coached Victoria Azarenka of Kazakhstan to the 2014 French Open title in a marathon final where Williams fell hard in her second-round loss to Azarenka.
Williams isn’t the only former player who has managed to have comeback success. There have been instances in the past decade in which players have come back from retirement, whether they had just announced it or had retired for some time.
And on Friday, it’s a day after her comeback in Paris that Williams has become a sports celebrity and won a historic $33 million endorsement contract with Nike.
“I’m so sorry I didn’t stick around and keep doing what I need to do to be at the top of my sport,” Williams said in a statement released by Nike. “But I know it’s true, I am in the best place.”
It’s a good thing that Serena Williams’ career has been in top gear from day one. But that is no guarantee of an athletic return.
“It’s always sad to see a player who is a favorite and the darling of sports fans retire,” said former U.S. doubles champion Pam Shriver. “But the reality of sports is that you will always