Serena Williams labelled ‘arrogant’ after swipe at Simona Halep doping ban

Serena Williams and Simona Halep pose before the 2019 Wimbledon final

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Tennis player Sorana Cirstea has accused Serena Williams of being “arrogant” after the 23-time grand slam champion appeared to make a dig at Simona Halep following her recent doping ban.

Halep, a former Wimbledon and French Open champion and world No 1, was banned for four years on two charges of breaching anti-doping regulations after testing positive for banned blood-booster roxadustat at the US Open last year. A tribunal upheld the Romanian’s suspension and accused her of “likely” taking performance-enhancing drugs.

Halep has strongly denied knowingly taking a banned substance and said she had evidence to show that small amounts of the anaemia drug entered her system from a licensed supplement that was contaminated.

Following the news of Halep’s ban, Williams cryptically tweeted: “8 is a better number”. Williams won seven Wimbledon titles, losing to Halep in the final in 2019.

Speaking to Sport Romania, Halep’s compatriot Cirstea said: “Serena as a player was extraordinarily good. As a person, she always had this arrogance. She didn’t accept when someone could beat her or took a title from her.”


Halep said she will “pursue all legal remedies against the supplement company in question”, and Cirstea leapt to her defence, suggesting contamination was a viable explanation for the test results.

“I know Simona. I don’t think she ever consciously doped. This suspension is for an innocent person,” she said. “I was afraid to take anything, I was afraid to take an aspirin. I’m maybe a little paranoid, but it’s no joke. It’s every athlete’s nightmare.”

Williams also commented on a tweet by her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who reposted a photo of himself wearing a T-shirt with the slogan: “Keeping kids off drugs.”

He had worn the T-shirt at a match Williams was playing against Maria Sharapova, who at the time had returned from a 15-month doping ban. Williams responded to his caption “some fashion is timeless” with the reply: “Seriously not out of style.”

Williams gave birth to a baby girl last month almost exactly a year after her last match as a tennis player.

Adira River Ohanian is the second child, and second daughter, for the 41-year-old Williams and her husband. Their first, Olympia, was born in 2017.

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