Romania’s Sorana Cirstea labeled Serena Williams as an arrogant tennis player after the 23-time Grand Slam champion appeared to shame Simona Halep for being given a four-year ban for doping.
A year after testing positive for the prohibited substance roxadustat, Halep finally received a verdict, although a devastating one — she was found guilty of two separate anti-doping rule violations: 1) failing a test for the blood-boosting substance roxadustat 2) irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport, which suggest prolonged use.
As the news about the four-year ban came out, the retired Williams, who lost to the Romanian in the 2019 Wimbledon final, posted a cryptic message on social media: “8 is a better number.” The sentence has been interpreted as referring to Halep, since Williams would have had eight Wimbledon singles titles had she not lost that final in London four years ago.
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Speaking with Sport Romania, Cirstea defended her compatriot Halep and revealed her own paranoia concerning unintentional intake of a banned substance:
I know Simona. I don’t think she ever consciously doped. This suspension is for an innocent person. 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.
Opening up to media in her home country, Cirstea revealed her opinion about Serena Williams:
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.