Simona Halep's cheeky act after linking with Serena Williams' coach

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Simona Halep and Patrick Mouratoglou, pictured here at the French Open.
Simona Halep and Patrick Mouratoglou at the French Open. Image: WTA/Getty

Simona Halep has cheekily suggested her new French coach might help her lift the French Open trophy after linking with Serena Williams' former mentor Patrick Mouratoglou.

A former champion at Roland Garros, Halep reached the second round on Tuesday, avoiding the fate of defending champ Barbora Krejcikova and 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza after they were knocked out on Monday.

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Halep eventually turned on the style in a strange match against 18-year-old German lucky loser Nastasja Schunk.

Having won the first set 6-4, she lost the second 1-6 before reversing that score in the third.

"Last year I didn't play, so I really missed it. I'm actually happy with the victory, even if it was difficult," she said.

"She was playing super well in the second set. She was hitting the ball strong and I didn't have a response.

"In the end I stayed focused and stayed strong, and I'm really happy I finished this match. It's always tough the first round."

The victory was Halep's first match at grand slam level under new coach Mouratoglou, who recently split with Williams in order to link up with the Romanian.

The World No.19 made a cheeky reference to the Frenchman in her on-court interview.

"Now I have a French coach, I will probably learn some French and be able to speak it," she said.

Mouratoglou responded on Twitter: "Let’s focus on coaching first."

Simona Halep links with Serena Williams' new coach

Halep shocked the tennis world last month when she revealed she was teaming up with Mouratoglou.

The Frenchman had worked with Williams since 2012, helping her win 10 of her 23 grand slam titles and an Olympic gold medal.

"Excited for a new chapter. Let's get to work," Halep tweeted alongside a photo of her and Mouratoglou on the practice court.

Mouratoglou then provided fresh details about his split with Williams, saying her lengthy absence from the WTA tour forced his hand.

Williams hasn't played since retiring hurt in the first round at Wimbledon last July, and Mouratoglou said he's missed coaching during the long layoff.

Simona Halep, pictured here talking to coach Patrick Mouratoglou at the French Open.
Simona Halep talks to coach Patrick Mouratoglou at the French Open. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Mouratoglou said Halep asked if he was available to coach her while training at his academy in southern France before Indian Wells in March.

The Frenchman said it was "out of question at the time" given his commitment to Williams.

"A few weeks later, I had a conversation with Serena, and the door opened for me, at least short term, to work with someone else," he told Tennis Majors.

"I missed it big time. Coaching is the passion of my life. It’s the job of my life.

"And when I went to see Serena to discuss before starting with Simona, that’s what I told her.

"I said, ‘coaching is the passion of my life and it’s difficult for me not to work.’ So yes, I missed coaching big, big time.

"Honestly, since I’m back to coaching with Simona, I cannot be happier. It’s an incredible satisfaction for me to do that job. It’s incredible."

Patrick Mouratoglou and Serena Williams, pictured here at the French Open in 2021.
Patrick Mouratoglou and Serena Williams at the French Open in 2021. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Mouratoglou said he felt an instant connection with Halep.

"Sometimes you feel the connection straight away. Sometimes it takes long," he added.

"In Simona’s case, it was instantly, really. She was very open with me. So that was easy, in a way.

"She made my job easy in being open and giving me the feeling that she’s willing to work and fully commit to what we’re going to do."

with AAP

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