Serena Williams fires ruthless shot at Simona Halep after Romanian’s 4-year doping ban

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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WTA Tour news: Simona Halep slapped with shocking 4-year ban after doping scandal

Former world No. 1 tennis superstar Simona Halep will not be able to participate in the top tiers of tennis competitions after getting banned for four years over a pair of anti-doping rule violations. The said sanction was announced by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) via a statement released on its official website.

“The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) can confirm that an independent tribunal has suspended Romanian tennis player Simona Halep for a period of four years following breaches of the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP).

Two-time Grand Slam title champion Halep, 31, was charged with two separate breaches of the TADP. The first related to an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for the prohibited substance roxadustat at the US Open in 2022, carried out through regular urine testing during competition. The second charge related to irregularities in Halep’s Athlete Biological Passport (ABP).”

Halep’s statement about unknowingly ingesting a supplement that was contaminated was accepted by the tribunal but that was still ultimately not enough to escape the harsh punishment.

“The tribunal accepted Halep’s argument that they had taken a contaminated supplement, but determined the volume the player ingested could not have resulted in the concentration of roxadustat found in the positive sample.  ”

Halep has been provisionally suspended from sanctioned events since 2022 following positive test results for usage of Roxadustat, a banned substance.

Halep, who reached the No. 1 ranking in the world in 2017, won the French Open in 2018 and the Wimbledon in 2019. She also played in the finals of the Australian Open in 2018 and reached the semis of the US Open in 2015.

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WTA star Simona Halep hit with heartbreaking update in doping case

Simona Halep received a distressing update in her ongoing doping case, and shared her emotional plea’s to social media after a further delay in the decision kept her out of the US Open.

Halep has been under investigation since last year after testing positive for a banned substance by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (IATA). The year-long case has still not been resolved, and the 31-year-old is desperate to return to the court after overcoming serious injuries.

“Today I found out that the decision in my case, which was expected this week, will be further delayed. This is terribly disappointing, as I have consistently said that all I ask for is to be judged. It is hard to explain the emotional toll that all of these delays have had and continue to have on me,” Halep posted on her Instagram story.

Halep was found to have trace substances of a banned substance called Roxadustat in a pre US Open drug test in August of 2022, and was subsequently banned for an undetermined amount of time.

“Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for the truth. I have been notified that I have tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in an extremely low quantity, which came as the biggest shock of my life,” Halep said in a statement after the initial ban.

She has not played since a loss in the first round of the 2022 US Open to Daria Snigur in three sets, and was devastated to learn of the ban after the match. She was previously the world No. 1 as recent as 2017, but has fallen on hard times after injuries and accusations have kept her off the court.

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Rafael Nadal and 6 other tennis stars that will miss the US Open

While qualifying is currently taking place, the US Open officially commences next Monday in what is the final Grand Slam event of the year. The top seeds in Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek will be looking to defend their respective titles after winning in New York last year. But while there are many big names taking part who will be looking for US Open glory themselves, there are also some notable absentees from Flushing Meadows this year. So with that said, here’s a look at some of the major tennis stars who will be missing the US Open.

Rafael Nadal

As most of us know by now, Nadal has not been in action since his second-round exit at the Australian Open back in January. He has since missed the entire clay-court and grass season, having undergone hip surgery in June.

Although there is a chance he could be back before the end of the year — especially with a recovery timeline of five months — it appears more likely that he’ll return at the Australian Open next year in what looks set to be his final year on the ATP Tour. If Nadal is to compete at the US Open again, it will likely be in 2024 for the last time.

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios’ injury woes will unfortunately continue as after missing Wimbledon with a wrist injury, he announced earlier this month that he’d be missing the US Open as well. It’s been a forgettable 2023 campaign for the last year’s US Open quarterfinalist as he’s only played one game all season.

Having now missed all four Grand Slams, the mercurial Australian is set to drop out of the ATP top 100. However, he did provide a positive update for his fans recently: “To my millions of fans out there, I guess we just have to be patient. Trust me, I still have some fire left in the tank, my body just needs time to recover and get back. Everything off-court is doing great. l am eyeing to come back and have a season like my last again.”

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic won the US Open back in 2014, but he won’t get a chance to win it a second time as he continues to battle knee issues that have kept him out since January.

Having played just two games all season, the Croatian is now ranked No. 144 and is set to drop even more points after reaching the round of 16 at Flushing Meadows last year. He notably suffered defeat to eventual champion Alcaraz over five sets.

Emma Raducanu

2021 US Open winner Emma Raducanu will not get a chance to emulate her past glory as she remains on the road to recovery. The Briton underwent triple surgery earlier this year and although she was back on a tennis court for the first time in a while, there is no official return date as things stand. She is currently ranked No. 186 in the WTA rankings.

Simona Halep

Simona Halep remains provisionally suspended since testing positive for the banned substance Roxadustat at last year’s US Open event where she exited in the first round. The two-time Grand Slam winner maintains she is innocent and is still looking to appeal her suspension having not played a game since.

However, any slim chances she had of taking part in New York have all but vanished after the US Tennis Association announced Halep “was automatically withdrawn” earlier this week. Taylor Townsend would go on to take her spot.

Pablo Carreno Busta

Pablo Carreno Busta has been off the grid for a while as the Spaniard has not been in action since his round of 32 defeat to Richard Gasquet at the Rotterdam Open back in February. Having missed a number of tournaments in the last eight months since, the 32-year-old has dropped down to 124 in the ATP rankings.

He will drop down even further given that he will lose 180 points from not competing at the US Open. Although it’s not clear what his exact injury is, all signs point to it being very serious.

Denis Shapovalov

World No. 26 Denis Shapovalov hasn’t featured since Wimbledon and will remain on the sidelines due to a knee injury.

Despite doing everything possible to be 100% healthy in time for @usopen, my knee needs more time and I sadly have to withdraw,” he tweeted earlier this month. “That grand slam energy, especially in NYC, is unlike anything else and I’m really going to miss playing in front of the amazing fans there this year!”

The Canadian reached the third round at Flushing Meadows last year.

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