Serena’s coach leaves to guide rival star
Serena Williams hosed down retirement talk after her long time coach Patrick Mouratoglou announced he will work with rival Simona Halep.
Just hours after Mouratoglou confirmed his next coaching venture, the 40-year-old 23-time Grand Slam champion posted a video to social media to allay fears her career is over.
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Speaking alongside NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers at a Bitcoin conference in Miami, Williams revealed she still has plans to play, with Wimbledon and the US Open in her sights.
“I am backstage at a Bitcoin conference in Miami with Aaron Rodgers here. We’ve been talking about my comeback and he’s been hyping me up and getting me ready for Wimbledon. Can’t wait!”
When asked whether she would play in the US Open, Williams replied: “Wimbledon is before the US Open! I have to play Wimbledon first!”
The video on social media came just hours after her coach of a decade, Mouratoglou, announced he is going to work with Halep.
Mouratoglou announced his partnership with Halep via social media on Thursday, creating a formidable pairing.
The owner of 23 major singles titles, a record for the professional era, Williams has not competed anywhere since hurting her right hamstring in a first-round match at Wimbledon in late June last year.
“Today I am starting a new chapter in my coaching career: I am now the full-time coach of Simona Halep. In the last eight months, I realised how much I missed coaching,” Mouratoglou wrote. “It is the passion of my life, and I still feel like I have so much to give.”
Mouratoglou said Halep, a 30-year-old from Romania who won Roland Garros in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019, went to his tennis academy for a training block before last month’s tournament at Indian Wells, California.
He said he stopped by some of her practice sessions to watch.
“At the end of the week, she asked me if I was available to coach her. I have the highest respect for her, but it was out of the question at the time. A few weeks later, I had a conversation with Serena, and the door opened for me, at least short term, to work with someone else,” Mouratoglou said. “I will keep you updated on what’s coming next soon.”
Mouratoglou and Williams began working together shortly after she lost to Virginie Razzano in the first round of the 2012 French Open. That was the only opening-match exit for the American at any Grand Slam tournament until her injury-forced retirement in the first set on Centre Court against Aliaksandra Sasnovich on June 29.
Williams was 30 when Mouratoglou came aboard; she won 13 of her Grand Slam singles trophies before that and 10 since.
She will turn 41 in September and is currently ranked 246th because of her lack of action on tour.
Halep, who defeated Williams in the 2019 final at the All England Club, first reached the top ranking in 2017 and is now 20th.
Halep missed a chunk of last season because of a torn left calf. After reaching the semifinals at Indian Wells in March, she withdrew from the Miami Open because of a left thigh problem.
She announced in September she would no longer be coached by Darren Cahill after six years together.
“Excited for a new chapter,” Halep wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “Let’s get to work @pmouratoglou.”
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