Simona Halep is set to appeal the four-year doping ban she received from the International Tennis Integrity Agency.

The ITIA announced the ban Tuesday, citing two anti-doping rule violations. The suspension runs until Oct. 6, 2026. Halep had been provisionally suspended since last October after testing positive for Roxadustat, a banned blood-booster, at last year’s US Open.

In a statement, Halep said that she “refused to accept” the decision, and that she would appeal to sport’s highest court.

“I am continuing to train and do everything in my power to clear my name of these false allegations and return to the court,” Halep said. “I intend to appeal this decision to The Court of Arbitration for Sport and pursue all legal remedies against the supplement company in question.”

A two-time Grand Slam champion and former world No. 1, Halep famously bested Serena Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final. With the win, she kept Williams from winning her eighth Wimbledon title and her 24th Grand Slam singles title.

Williams, who retired in 2022 with seven Wimbledon titles and 23 major singles titles to her name, seemingly responded to Halep’s suspension Tuesday on social media.

“8 is a better number,” she wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian also responded indirectly to the ITIA ruling.

“Some fashion is timeless,” he wrote, alongside a photo of himself in a “D.A.R.E.” anti-drug shirt at one of Williams’ matches.

“Seriously not out of style,” Williams replied.

An independent tribunal sat through two days of evidence from scientific experts and sifted through 8,000 pages of evidence and testimony from Halep. While the tribunal accepted Halep’s argument that she had taken a contaminated supplement, the volume ingested could not have resulted in the concentration of roxadustat found in her positive sample, the tribunal concluded.

“Today, a tribunal under the tennis anti-doping program announced a tentative decision in my case,” Halep wrote in response to the ban. “The last year has been the hardest match of my life, and unfortunately my fight continues.

“I have devoted my life to the beautiful game of tennis. I take the rules that govern our sport very seriously and take pride in the fact I have never knowingly or intentionally used any prohibited substance.”

Simona Halep is calling for a hearing to give her the chance to clear her name after being provisionally suspended by the International Tennis Integrity Agency in October.

In an interview with Tennis Majors earlier this week, the former world No. 1 spoke publicly for the first time since learning of a failed drug test at the US Open. She said that up to this point, she’s been denied a right to a hearing by an independent court.

“I didn’t want to get out and talk because it was very emotional,” Halep said. “Actually, I couldn’t handle it very well. But now I feel the need to speak out loud to my supporters, my fans and to the public because I am sure they really want to know why it’s taking so long and I really felt the need to do that.”

At the US Open last year, Halep’s A and B samples both confirmed the presence of a blood booster, roxadustat, which is banned. The drug can stimulate the production of red blood cells, similarly to another banned substance erythropoietin.

Halep denied taking the substance knowingly and said that she has evidence proving that low-qualities of the drug entered her body from an authorized supplement that was contaminated.

She sent that evidence to the International Tennis Federation in December. Her case was scheduled to be heard by an independent tribunal in February. The hearing was postponed to a March date that was also pushed back. She now hopes to have the hearing in May.

“The ITF requested that the hearing on March 24 should be canceled,” Halep said. “I did not agree with that because, as the rule says, a player that is provisionally suspended is entitled to get an expedited hearing. Everything takes so long.

“I asked the ITF to lift my sanction to be able to play, but they also refused it.”

In a statement, the ITF said that anti-doping cases do not fall under its jurisdiction. The ITIA said that Halep’s case was being processed in line with the World Anti-Doping Code.

Since her positive result, Halep says she has taken 10 tests, which have all been negative.

“I believe that it’s not fair to spend eight months without even being judged by the tribunal. Emotionally, the whole period has not been easy,” said the 31-year-old. “I’m not asking for special treatment. I just ask to be judged. How much longer is this going to take?”

Halep’s last match came in the first round of the 2022 US Open, when she was stunned by Daria Snigur in three sets. The Romanian has won two Grand Slam singles titles in her career, the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019.

Simona Halep’s former coach, Darren Cahill, came to her defense on Sunday after the two-time Grand Slam winner tested positive for a banned substance.

The two worked together for six years before parting ways. Halep recently transitioned to work with Patrick Mouratoglou, who famously coached Serena Williams.

In his statement, Cahill said there is “NO chance” Halep “knowingly or purposely” took a banned substance at the US Open, as the International Tennis Integrity Agency said in a statement on Friday.

“She is an athlete that stressed about anything prescribed to her by a medical professional, or any supplement that she used or considered,” he wrote, adding that she often double- or triple-checked to ensure that her medications were legal and she would not take a substance if it were questionable.

Both he and Halep “believe in the ITIA testing program,” Cahill wrote, adding that Halep submitted to tests “without complaint.”

“Competing against clean athletes was important to her,” he continued.

Halep tested positive for roxadustat, a banned substance, at the US Open in August. Calling it the “biggest shock of her life,” Halep said in a statement that she will continue to fight “to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance.”

The ITIA, which conducts the drug tests, said in a statement that Halep requested a second sample be tested after the first came back positive. That result confirmed the finding of the A sample.

As a result, Halep is unable to compete. The 31-year-old Romanian star, currently ranked No. 9 in the world, last won a Grand Slam at Wimbledon in 2019.

“Simona’s integrity is faultless, she respects her peers, she loves the game and she always has her feet firmly planted on the ground as a humble, approachable champion,” Cahill wrote. “Honesty has always been her greatest strength and her biggest weakness. We would often laugh about the fact that she can’t act and can’t tell a little white lie.

“Due process will now follow to reveal answers to many questions.”

Simona Halep has been provisionally suspended from tennis after testing positive for roxadustat, a banned substance, at the US Open in August.

In a statement, Halep called it “the biggest shock of my life.”

“Today begins the hardest match of my life: a fight for the truth,” she wrote. “I have been notified that I have tested positive for a substance called Roxadustat in an extremely low quantity.”

Roxadustat is a drug that increases the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. It’s usually used to treat anemia, which is caused by chronic kidney disease, and is taken by mouth.

In a statement, the International Tennis Integrity Agency said that Halep had requested that her second drug sample be tested. That second sample confirmed the finding of the A sample.

The two-time Grand Slam champion is unable to compete as a result.

She had previously announced in September that she had undergone nose surgery to improve her breathing and would not continue to compete in the 2022 season.

Halep is the highest-profile player to fail a drug test since Maria Sharapova in 2016.

“Throughout my whole career, the idea of cheating never even crossed my mind once, as it is totally against all the values I have been educated with,” Halep continued in her statement.

“Facing such an unfair situation, I feel completely confused and betrayed. I will fight until the end to prove that I never knowingly took any prohibited substance and I have faith that sooner or later, the truth will come out.”

Halep began to work with Serena Williams’ longtime coach Patrick Mouratoglou earlier this season.

Simona Halep has a new coach: Patrick Mouratoglou, the longtime coach of Serena Williams.

Halep has had a strong start to the 2022 season but has been dealing with a muscle tear in her left thigh, which caused her to pull out of the Miami Open. She reached the semifinals at Indian Wells and is ranked 20th in the world.

Last September, the 2018 French Open champion announced her split from coach Darren Cahill, who suggested that she visit the Mouratoglou Academy.

Halep practiced with Mouratoglou ahead of Indian Wells and asked him to become her coach, but “it was out of the question at the time,” Mouratoglou wrote in a social media post.

“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,” Mouratoglou continued.

In an interview with Tennis Majors, the coach said his connection with Halep came “super fast.”

“Sometimes you feel a connection straight away,” he said. “In Simona’s case, it was instantly, really. As I said, she’s super smart and she’s super sensitive also, and 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.”

The move sparked speculation about Williams’ future in the sport, which she addressed in her Instagram Story on Thursday. The 23-time Grand Slam champion posted a video with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

“We’ve been talking about my comeback, he’s been hyping me up and getting me ready for Wimbledon,” Williams said.

Mouratoglou and Williams have worked together for 10 years, but Williams has not played since going down with an injury at Wimbledon in 2021.

Simona Halep is out of competition for the next three weeks, pulling out of the Miami Open after an MRI revealed a muscle tear in her left thigh.

In a post on social media, Halep revealed that she has been struggling with the injury since Indian Wells but had “hoped it would improve.” She said that while practicing for her match against Australian wild card Daria Saville, she felt a sharp pain in her left leg. Halep reached the semifinals at Indian Wells last week, resulting in a first-round bye in Miami.

The two-time Grand Slam champion and current world No. 19 has pulled out of Miami, as well as the Charleston Open and the Billie Jean King Cup.

“While it feels like really disappointing news to share, I am keeping the confidence from my great start to the year and am motivated to do everything to be ready for the clay-court season,” she wrote.

Halep has had a good start to the year, reaching her first WTA 1000 semifinal at Indian Wells since her 2020 Rome title run. She also reached the final 16 at the Australian Open.

Iga Swiatek is heading to the Indian Wells final after defeating 2015 champion Simona Halep 7-6(6), 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Open semifinals on Friday.

After going down a break in each set, the Polish star recovered for the resilient 1-hour, 49-minute win over Halep. Swiatek is now 10-0 in WTA 1000 events this season as the 20-year-old continues her impressive start to the year.

“Today I had to come back from some breaks as well, so I think mentally it was the toughest one,” Swiatek said after the match.

Swiatek will face Maria Sakkari in the BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday after the world No. 6 took down defending champion Paula Badosa 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 in the semifinals.

Sakkari dominated the opening set, firing 11 winners to Badosa’s two. After a tight second set, Sakkari got back on track in the third, deploying a fierce baseline game to cruise past the world No. 7.

“I work my entire life to get to this, to the late stages of the tournaments. It means a lot to me,” Sakkari said through tears during her post-match interview. Sunday will mark the first WTA 1000 final of Sakkari’s career.

Sakkari holds a 3-1 head-to-head advantage over Swiatek, but Swiatek got the better of the Greek star just three weeks ago. The winner of Sunday’s final will clinch the No. 2 ranking.

The US Open kicks off this week in New York City with a full house of spectators expected to attend. Fans won’t have the honor of watching either of the Williams sisters take the court, as both have withdrawn due to injury. But with Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka both in top form, viewers will be witness to two young stars whose zeniths could finally collide on the grand stage — if they can survive the array of talented competitors that stand in their way.

Here’s who to watch in New York during tennis’ final Grand Slam of the year:

The Favorites

Australia’s Ash Barty is heading into the US Open with all the momentum one could hope for at this point in the North American hard-court season.

The world #1 in rankings recently became the first player to claim five WTA singles titles in a single season since Serena Williams did it in 2014. That fifth trophy came last week at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, where Barty worked her way through several Grand Slam contenders on her way to the title, including Victoria Azarenka, Barbora Krejcikova, and Angelique Kerber. When the 25-year-old won Wimbledon earlier this summer she proved her inaugural Grand Slam title at the 2019 French Open and subsequent number one ranking that persisted through the strange landscape of the pandemic were no fluke. But she has yet to reach the finals rounds of a US Open. Having lost in the round of 16 in both 2018 and 2019 and then opted out in 2020 due to the pandemic, she is poised to make a very deep run this week in New York.

The woman most likely to rain on the 2021 Barty parade is none other than Naomi Osaka. While her trajectory this year has been much more of a roller coaster, she has four hard-court Grand Slam titles to Barty’s zero. Out of the last four Grand Slam tournaments held, Osaka won the first two and then either withdrew or opted out of the next two. She hasn’t lost a single Grand Slam match since January 2020 at the Australian Open, way back in the Before-COVID-Times. Both she and Barty lost early at the Tokyo Olympics, but Osaka also lost in the round of 16 at the Western & Southern Open. Off the court, she continues to figure out how and whether she wants to meet current expectations of a highly publicized life. Only she knows the extent to which those struggles may be impacting her play.

Barty and Osaka are tied 2-2 in head-to-head matches. Even though Osaka dropped a spot from #2 to #3 in overall rankings last week, her and Barty are fortunately on opposite sides of the bracket. Even with a rocky lead up to the last Grand Slam of the year, Osaka is a proven champion with a stellar hard-court record and has a solid claim to the title of best women’s player in the world. Cheers to the tennis gods for a draw that leaves the door open for a Barty v. Osaka US Open final.

Contenders with momentum on their side

One of the most exciting players of 2021 has been Barbora Krejcikova. The 25-year-old from the Czech Republic just recently broke into the top ten and currently sits #9 overall, by far her best ranking in singles.

Krejcikova entered 2021 with two Grand Slam doubles titles from the 2018 French Open and 2018 Wimbledon and has watched her singles success finally take off. This year, she has won three WTA singles titles, including her first Grand Slam at the French Open. She also managed to capture her second French Open doubles championship that same week and then followed that up with a gold medal in doubles at the Tokyo Olympics. While the clay court seems to suit her well, she’s proving the hard court fits nicely too. She won the first hard-court tournament of the year at the Livesport Prague Open and made it to quarters of the Western & Southern Open before losing to Barty. 

In the #12 spot in WTA rankings, Swiss player Belinda Bencic is also enjoying a breakout 2021. Having won the Olympic singles gold medal and then following it up with a strong run at the Western & Southern Open where she lost in the quarters, Bencic is looking like a solid threat as she heads into her strongest Grand Slam event.

Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber are another two to keep your eye on. Pliskova has gone deep in the two hard-court lead-up tournaments to the US Open and was on the opposite side of the net to Barty in the Wimbledon final. Having made it to the quarters, semis, or final of a Grand Slam eight times, she appears to be on the precipice of finally tipping that scale. Kerber, on the other hand, has experienced Grand Slam title glory three times in her career and with appearances in this year’s Wimbledon semis and the Western & Southern Open semis, she is definitely a threat.

The Question Marks

Aryna Sabalenka, the woman who just surpassed Osaka to claim the #2 overall ranking, is still a bit of an unknown heading into New York. She put her name on the map this summer by making it to the semis of Wimbledon and she also got to the semis of one hard-court tourney early in August, but lost in the first round of another. Whether the 23-year-old from Belarus has something special in store for New York is a bit of a guess.

Bianca Andreescu hasn’t had the strong return from injury that many were looking forward to during this hard-court season. The 2019 US Open champion has had a rough showing for 2021, and her recent hard-court tournaments have been no exception. But at only 21 years old and with a new coach on board she has plenty of time to back up her 2019 victory even if it’s not imminent.

Veterans Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka will also need a bit of luck on their side in order to make a strong run this week. With injuries and early exists from lead-in tournaments, the stars don’t seem to be aligned for either of the two-time Grand Slam champions. 

US Open first-round play begins Monday, Aug. 30 and continues until the two women left standing face off for the title at 4pm ET on Saturday, September 11th.

Naomi Osaka found herself in unfamiliar territory this weekend when she was knocked out of the Mutua Madrid Open early in the second round.

Her opponent Karolina Muchova had a commanding first set, beating Osaka 6-4 and going up a break early in the second.

Never one to give up, Osaka clawed her way back into the match, winning five straight games to claim the second set 6-3.

After losing momentum to Osaka, Muchova regained her confidence in the deciding set. Moving seamlessly on the clay surface, Muchova took the third set 6-1.

On the same day, Victoria Azarenka announced that she will pull out of Madrid to tend to a nagging lower back injury.

With Naomi Osaka and Azarenka out early, the women’s draw in Madrid has opened up considerably.

While other stars falter, former Madrid Champion Simona Halep is emerging as an early favorite after her commanding 6-0, 6-4 win over Saisai Zheng.

She will play the winner of the Mertens, Rybakina match in the round of sixteen.