Simona Halep faces complications with her return

Ranking, coaching, and availability of wildcards are among the issues Halep faces

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Simona Halep's green light to return to professional tennis from the Court of Arbitration for Sport earlier this week is great news. Her four-year suspension was reevaluated and became a nine-month retroactive suspension that she already served since being out of the sport for nearly 18 months.

Her ruling is groundbreaking and how it is handled after the fact may also require some trailblazing and pioneering decision-making by the WTA. At this point, it is unclear if anyone at the WTA is evaluating the unique issues associated with her situation.

She faces serious issues surrounding her ranking, coaching, and availability of wildcard entries into tournaments.

What should be Halep's ranking?

Her revised suspension ended in July 2023, but she has not played since October 2022. Halep is currently unranked though she was in the Top 100 last July as she awaited ruling on her case. Will the WTA take action and retroactively reinstate a ranking commensurate with where she would have been in July 2023?

Halep's coaches in recent years were Darren Cahill and Patrick Mouratoglou. Given Mouratoglou's involvement in administering the tainted supplement (neither he nor Simona was aware it was contaminated), it is unlikely she would work with him again. He is also currently coaching Holger Rune full-time. Cahill was one of Halep's biggest advocates through this process, openly speaking out about never doubting her innoncence. He is Jannik Sinner's full-time coach. In addition to rebuilding her career, she will need to assemble a new team of people she has the utmost trust in during the competitive tennis season. Who will she select?

The wildcard issue is also tricky since a huge crowd of female players is looking for wildcards in tournaments. In addition to veterans like Venus Williams and Caroline Wozniacki, injured players Emma Raducanu and Paula Badosa need wildcards. These are just a few names; others include Amanda Anisimova, Karoline Pliskova, Naomi Osaka, and Angelique Kerber. Getting multiple wildcards to successive tournaments for consistent match-play experience could be challenging. She may have to drop to the ITF level to get playing time. Her ruling is wonderful news, but some issues need to be dealt with quickly so that she does not miss out on any more time in her playing career.

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