Serena Williams appeared to throw some major shade at Simona Halep.
On Tuesday, Halep was served with a four-year ban by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) for anti-doping violations stemming from her positive test for the banned substance Roxadustat during the 2022 US Open.
Halep has since been provisionally suspended as she maintained her innocence, claiming she took a contaminated supplement. However, the independent tribunal overseeing her case determined that the volume she had ingested could not have resulted in the concentration of Roxadustat found in the positive sample.
As a result, the Romanian — who had another anti-doping violation after irregularities in her athlete biological passport — will not be able to play professionally until Oct. 6, 2026.
A few hours after the news broke, 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams took to X to post a cryptic message with no context whatsoever.
“8 is a better number,” she wrote.
Tennis fans were quick to theorize what she meant as some felt she was alluding to Halep deserving an eight-year ban rather than a four-year ban.
However, there’s a potential double meaning as well as Williams was notably looking to win her eighth Wimbledon title back in 2019 only to lose in the final to none other than Halep who emerged victorious with a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
Prior to that meeting, Halep had only beaten the American once in nine attempts. For now, we’ll never know for sure what Williams meant.
Amid all this, Halep still plans on appealing the result.
“Today, a tribunal under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme announced a tentative decision in my case,” she wrote in a statement. “The last year has been the hardest match of my life, and unfortunately my fight continues. I have devoted my life to the beautiful game of tennis.
“I take the rules that govern our sport very seriously and take pride in the fact I have never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance. I refused to accept their decision of a four-year ban.
“… I am continuing to train and do everything in my power to clear my name of these false allegations and return to the court. I intend to appeal this decision to The Court of Arbitration for Sport and pursue all legal remedies against the supplement company in question.”
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