Simona Halep hits back at Caroline Wozniacki comments after tennis return in Miami

Halep returned to action in Miami after successfully appealing her doping ban.

Simona Halep insists she "didn't cheat" after hitting back at comments from Caroline Wozniacki about her long-awaited return to tennis from a doping ban. Halep described her comeback at the Miami Open as a "special" moment despite the fact she lost in the first round to Spain's Paula Badosa 1-6 6-4 6-3.

The Romanian was given a wildcard for the tournament after being cleared to return by the highest court in sport, having successfully seen her four-year doping ban reduced to nine months. Halep's tennis career had been on hold for 18 months after her positive doping test at the 2022 US Open. But the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled earlier in March that "on the balance of probabilities" her positive test for a banned blood-boosting substance was unintentional and caused by a contaminated supplement.

Pictured right to left are tennis stars Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep.
Caroline Wozniacki was critical of the decision to award Simona Halep a Miami Open wildcard in her return to tennis from a doping ban. Pic: Getty

While Halep's return was largely celebrated across the tennis world, Wozniacki hit out about the situation after her first round win against France's Clara Burel. The Dane set up a second round showdown with Anhelina Kalinina after beating Burel 6-1 6-4.

Caroline Wozniacki questions wildcard for Simona Halep

Wozniacki was asked for her thoughts on Halep afterwards and didn't hold back in her opinion, questioning the decision to hand the two-time major winner a wildcard despite insisting she's "always had a good relationship" with the Romanian. "I've been very outspoken in the past how I feel about doping and all of that," Wozniacki said. "I think my view on doping is the same. I have always wanted a clean sport, fair for everybody.

"This is not directly at Simona, but if someone purposely cheats, if someone has tested positive for doping - I understand why a tournament wants a big star in the tournament - and it's not a knock on anyone, but it's my personal belief that I don't think people should be awarded wildcards afterwards. If you want to come back, and it's been a mistake, I understand; you should work your way up from the bottom."

Wozniacki's swipe was largely at the the decision of tournament director James Blake to grant Halep a wildcard in Miami. Blake revealed on the "Served with Andy Roddick" podcast that organisers saved one women's wildcard for the tournament in case Halep was cleared to return.

Seen here, Simona Halep at the Miami Open.
Simona Halep lost to Paula Badosa at the Miami Open in her first competitive tennis match since returning from a doping ban. Pic: Getty

Simona Halep insists she's 'not a cheater'

Asked about Wozniacki's response during her own post-match press conference, Halep again reiterated that she was not a cheat and never knowingly took an illegal substance. "I didn't do anything wrong," Halep said. "I didn't cheat. I didn't dope. So, it's better if we read the decision from CAS that it was a contaminated supplement; it wasn't doping. I never had something to do with doping. I never doped, so I'm not a cheater.

"Thank you to the tournament for giving me the wildcard... It was great to be back. Only one person being negative about me is not that important because I have hundreds of people giving me love, so I will take that."

Simona Halep tires after hot start against Paula Badosa

Halep looked like she'd barely had any time away from the sport after racing away with the first set in just 38 minutes. The stunning start was even more surprising considering Halep, playing her first match in 18 months, lost the opening game to love and then double-faulted her first serve. An ace helped the two-time major winner hold serve and she promptly reeled off six games in a row to take control.


Badosa broke early in the second set and held on despite some fierce pressure to take the match into a third set. The Spaniard took the momentum into the decider and took full advantage of the waning energy levels of her opponent to set up a second round clash with World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka, who won despite news of the tragic death of her boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov on Tuesday.

Other women's action saw American Venus Williams, 43, knocked out by 19-year-old Russian Diana Shnaider 6-3 6-3 in an hour and 19 minutes. While Australian Daria Saville made it through to the second round after a 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory over China's Shuai Zhang.

with AAP

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.

Yahoo Australia