PTPA executive director calls on tennis to do better following Halep reinstatement

By Sports Desk March 16, 2024

Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) executive director Ahmad Nassar believes tennis should do more to protect players after Simona Halep was allowed to return to tennis.

Halep was suspended in October 2022 after failing two drug tests following the US Open. The former world number one was initially banned for four years, but a ruling earlier in March by the Court of Arbitration for Sport slashed her suspension to nine months.

The reduced ban means Halep can immediately return to tennis, and the two-time grand-slam winner is set to make her return at the upcoming Miami Open.

When asked whether players in situations like Halep's should receive help to gain back what she has lost during her time away, Nassar told Stats Perform: "Should there be? Absolutely. Will there be? Probably not. For tennis, this is a much broader issue in terms of governance. 

"Think about Simona’s case. Where did this happen, at the US Open? And so you give the Tour the cover to say 'well, it wasn't actually one of our events'. It was, and we didn't admit it. There has to be an answer.

"The net effect is the player gets doubly penalised."

Now 32, Halep will be a wildcard at the Miami Open.

In Nassar's view, that is an opportunity that not every player in a similar situation would be fortuitous enough to receive.

"I don't want to use the word lucky," Nassar explained. "But Simona is unique in the sense that she's already gotten, 24 hours later, a wildcard to Miami, a WTA 1000 event.

"Ninety-nine per cent of players who go through anything like this will not get that. What do they have to do? Well, they have to go play maybe universal tennis events, and then WTA 125s and get back into it. That could take a year, easily.

"Getting back, building your ranking up, getting your points up, getting the money to be able to go back out there. It becomes really overly punitive at that point."

Nassar is hopeful that Halep can return to her top form, which saw her claim French Open and Wimbledon triumphs in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

He added: "What I'll say is this. Athletes who have been unfairly treated often use that as fuel and motivation when they're back. And so I would not be surprised in the least if that was the case.

"But at the same time, I don't want to make light of what Simona and other athletes who go through this type of nightmare have to endure. We definitely wish her all the best."

Nassar also called out some in tennis for their lack of initial support for Halep, continuing: "It's been interesting to see that decision come out.

"It's like everybody is saying 'welcome back' with open arms. And I have to ask myself, where were these people for 17 months?

"The process was not okay. And it's still not okay."

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