Romanian tennis star Sorona Cirstea has taken a swipe at Serena Williams after the 23-time grand slam champion appeared to take a dig at Simona Halep for being handed a four-year ban from tennis. Last week, Williams posted a cryptic tweet reading: "8 is a better number".
The message was right after Halep had been dealt a devastating blow having been banned for four years over two separate anti-doping rule violations. Both the charges were upheld at the independent tribunal earlier this month. Halep wouldn't be able to play until October 6 2026, but the two-time grand slam winner has vowed to appeal the decision.
Many tennis fans believe Williams was referring to her seven Wimbledon titles in the post, which could have been eight if she hadn't lost to Halep in the 2019 final. And fellow Romanian Cirstea has taken aim at Williams for the post in the wake of Halep's tough news.
The World No.25 labelled Williams as 'arrogant' in an interview with Sport Romania. "Serena as a player was extraordinarily good. As a person, she always had this arrogance. She didn't accept when someone could beat her or took a title from her," she said.
After taking a dig at Williams, Cirstea defended Halep and said the issue is every athlete's worst nightmare.
"I know Simona. I don't think she ever consciously doped. This suspension is for an innocent person," she said. "I was afraid to take anything, I was afraid to take an aspirin. I'm maybe a little paranoid, but it's no joke. It's every athlete's nightmare."
Halep has been suspended since October 2022 after failing a test for the blood-boosting substance Roxadustat. Halep had her hearing pushed back a number of times, before a second charge was brought against her for irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport.
Halep defended herself in the wake of the suspension and blamed a contaminated supplement for the traces of the banned drug called Roxadustat. "I am continuing to train and do everything in my power to clear my name of these false allegations and return to the court," she said in a statement.
She also said she would fight to clear her name and would "pursue all legal remedies against the supplement company in question."
Serena Williams caught up in Simona Halep drama
Williams' husband, Alexei Ohanian, also appeared to make reference to Halep's news. Ohanian re-tweeted a photo of himself wearing a T-shirt that read: 'Keeping kids off drugs'. He wore this T-shirt when Williams played Maria Sharapova in 2019. This caused a stir at the time with the Russian banned for 15 months after failing a drug test in 2016.
Ohanian accompanied the picture with the caption: "Some fashion is timeless". Williams commented: "Seriously not out of style". Williams could have equalled Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles with one more grand slam. She won her 23rd grand at the Australian Open in 2017, which was her final grand slam title.
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