Wimbledon champion Simona Halep talks dancing and cooking in lockdown
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Wimbledon champion Simona Halep says she is still a “little bit worried” about playing in this year’s US Open.

With Wimbledon cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the US Open is set to be the first Grand Slam played since the tennis tours were suspended.

The event will be played behind closed doors in New York from 31 August.

On her US Open plans, Halep told the BBC’s Wimbledon: The Best of the Championships: “It will be a little difficult, it depends on restrictions.”

The world number two said she was “a little bit worried to make that move”.

Halep, 28, said in June she was unsure whether she would play at Flushing Meadows, but added her plans were “not set in stone”.

On Tuesday, she said: “I have no idea at the moment because nobody knows what is going to happen after this month.

“I will wait to see what is being decided, see what the other players will do.”

‘I’m hungry to play again’ – Halep refreshed after lockdown

Having been suspended since March, the WTA Tour plans to resume on 3 August with the Palermo Open in Italy.

Halep hopes to play in that event, saying she “needs some matches” having not picked up a racquet for two months earlier in the lockdown.

She has been enjoying “normal things” and has lived a lockdown life like many have done: listening to music, reading more books and checking what is happening in the world on the internet.

“It was the longest break in my life,” she said. “I told everyone I was going to put a racquet away and lead a normal life.

“I didn’t have a schedule or the emotions for practice and for the matches, or that I had to pack again and leave. So it was pretty good, I took it as a positive as much as possible.

“I did normal stuff, nothing special. I wanted to chill and clear my mind, after many years at the top the pressure was high.

“Now I’m hungry again. I want to travel and play tennis. This period helped me believe I have a few more years ahead.”

Dodging the champions’ dance & everlasting Wimbledon memories

Most Wimbledon champions have the opportunity to defend their title the following summer, but Halep has been denied that chance after the Championships were suspended for the first time since 1945.

Twelve months ago, Halep won her first SW19 title by demolishing American great Serena Williams in what she described as “the best match I have ever played”. Perhaps most importantly, she pleased her parents.

“My mother always said one day if I could play a final at Wimbledon it would be great because I was at the highest level of tennis,” said the former world number one, who won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2018.

“It was a dream – although more for my parents! Every player dreams to win Wimbledon, but I didn’t have the courage to think I would be there one day. Winning was huge.”

Memories of her lap of honour around Centre Court with the Venus Rosewater Dish, then showing off the trophy to the fans gathered below the winners’ balcony, remain fresh in the memory.

Claiming lifelong membership of the All England Club was another perk of winning the ladies’ singles, although there was one Wimbledon tradition she was keen to avoid.

“The gala was amazing and very special. But I didn’t do the dance,” said Halep.

“I was very stressed and I asked if I had to do it. They said it was up to me, but I said: ‘No thanks.’ I didn’t want to fall over!”

Another positive Halep took from being in lockdown was finding the time to frame the racquet with which she beat Williams.

Placed underneath a photograph of her holding the trophy, it sits proudly on a wall at her home and provides a constant reminder.

“I see it every single second I walk down my corridor,” she smiles.

Despite the sadness of not being able to go to south-west London this year, the Romanian has managed to turn that into a positive.

“I’m the Wimbledon champion for two years – I love that! I have one more year to enjoy it more, it is huge,” she said.

“And I have received some towels, a cap and a T-shirt from Wimbledon – so it made me feel like I’m playing this year.”

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