World No. 2 Simona Halep said in an interview that she has learned a lot from the two-month home isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and that she realized that she has actually lived in an all-out lockdown in the past six years, a time during which she has focused exclusively on her career.
I learned a lot from the two-month isolation. I realized that in the last 6 years I’ve been actually on a total lockdown. It occurred to me that I have to change something in my life, in order to also develop on the emotional and personal side. The fact that I’ve been on lockdown for 6 years has helped me become world No. 1, but now, for me to have a happy life without tennis, I am slowly trying to experience new feelings, see something else. My mindset is such that it tells me I have to be home at 22 in the evening because I have to train the next morning. I can’t let go completely, but I’ve progressed a bit. And I’m proud, Halep said in an interview for the site of one of her main sponsors.
She says the return to tournaments will be difficult, just like for any other athlete, and that the absence of official matches will take a toll on her.
My longest break before the lockdown has been of 3-4 weeks and [returning to competitions] was very difficult for me. You lose pace, you lose focus … and then physically, if you idle about for a whole week you’ve lost half a year. I don’t know what others have done during this time, maybe some did training runs, maybe they did strength workouts, I don’t know, I can’t assume. But I feel it on my own skin that it will be a bit difficult for me. It matters a lot that I haven’t had official matches. You can train five hours a day for a whole year, if you are not on an official game, you’re out when you step on court … I mean, you’re not in the game at all. There’s a big difference, Halep explained.
However, the Romanian tennis glory admitted that she has enjoyed the downtime spent at home.
For me, this was the ideal time because I experienced what it feels like to live at home for three months without going anywhere. No planes, no hotels, no nothing. I did my workouts at home, I also skipped on them because I could afford it, knowing that we won’t play until August and I told myself that I still have time. I’m lucky to live in a forest area and the trees were turning green from one day to another. And now I realized that I never stayed home to watch how spring sets in, to watch this beautiful harmony. For the first time I watched nature unfold … it’s incredible. Now I realize these years have been – not hard, but a time of constant rush. I was running full-throttle all the time and I was blocking everything out. I had just one goal, tennis and nothing else. I’m tough on myself, I’m my biggest critic and this has helped me. But when you demand increasingly more of yourself, the limit moves up… Our limit is not fixed, you can make it more elastic. In 2017, when I lost the second Grand Slam final – I’m talking about it because it left a mark on me – I could say that was my limit … but I have always pushed my limit and little by little I won, Halep said.
29-year old Simona Halep has won 20 WTA titles in her career, including Roland Garros (2018) and Wimbledon (2019), and spent 64 weeks on top of the world ranking. She is currently No. 2 in the WTA ranking which was frozen after the suspension of tournaments in March.