Simona Halep pre-breast reduction at the French Open in 2008. Picture: Julian Finney/Getty Images
Simona Halep pre-breast reduction at the French Open in 2008. Picture: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Tennis star’s stunning transformation

SOME people would give their right arm to win Wimbledon.

But Simona Halep has literally sacrificed body parts to reach the top of tennis.

As a promising teenage player who had already won the French Open junior title, the Romanian made the life-changing decision to have breast reduction surgery.

Her 34DD chest was getting in the way of her sporting dream so she went under the knife at the age of 17.

Halep, who will face seven-time champion Serena Williams in Saturday's Wimbledon final, said the move to a 34C was a game-changer.

"My ability to react quickly was worse and my breasts made me uncomfortable," Halep said.

"I didn't like them in my everyday life, either. I would have gone for surgery even if I hadn't been a sportswoman."

Halep said her breasts made her uncomfortable on the court. Picture: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Halep said her breasts made her uncomfortable on the court. Picture: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Halep's breakthrough year came in 2013 when she won six WTA titles and entered the top 10 for the first time.

By the following year, she was being talked about as a contender for Grand Slam titles.

But the drastic measures she had taken to help her reach that level remained a talking point.

Her then-coach Wim Fissette, who would go on to work with Britain's Jo Konta among others, said: "She took that decision and it was a good one. I understand that it's what a lot of people know her for. But let's hope she will win a Grand Slam and then they will start talking about that instead."

Halep had her first chance to land a major in Paris in 2014 but lost in the final to Maria Sharapova.

Despite climbing to No 2 in the world rankings, she was unable to reach another slam final until 2017.

Her big chance again came in Paris and she blew it. Leading by a set and a break against unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, she lost the match and the opportunity to become world No 1.

Halep did rise to the top of the pile later in 2017 but it came with the stigma of having achieved it without winning a Slam.

Halep celebrates winning a point against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
Halep celebrates winning a point against Ukraine's Elina Svitolina. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

At the 2018 Australian Open, she went all the way to the final but in the battle of the slamless wonders, she lost to Caroline Wozniacki.

Halep finally got the monkey off her back in Paris later that year, winning her first major title by overcoming Sloane Stephens.

The clash with Williams is Halep's fifth grand slam final but this one carries extra meaning because it fulfils her mother, Tania's dream of watching her in the last match at Wimbledon.

"About 10, 15 years ago she said her dream is (for Halep) to play the final in Wimbledon because everyone is here - the Royal Box," the Romanian said.

"So today her dream came true. I will play a final. It's very special this moment. To be able to play Wimbledon final, it's pretty amazing."

Darren Cahill watches as Simona Halep of Romania practices. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Darren Cahill watches as Simona Halep of Romania practices. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Halep has lost nine of her 10 meetings with Williams but is undaunted by the challenge of facing the 23-times major winner in what will be the American's 11th final at the All England Club.

Halep is taking heart from her three-set fourth-round near miss against Williams at the Australian Open, which remains one of the matches of the year.

"I played many matches against her. Many of them were very close. Now, if I face her, I will believe that I have my chance to win," the underdog said.

"Of course, I respect a lot what she has done and what she's doing. But now I feel stronger mentally facing her."

Another quirky fact surrounding the Romanian 27-year-old is her social media accounts.

Halep only follows two people on Twitter - her Australian coach Darren Cahill and snooker star Mark Selby.

She explained why after beating Svitolina. "I apologise. I say that I have no idea how you play snooker," she said. "But I appreciate (Selby). He's been in Romania a few times. I met him. Also I have a snooker ball signed from him. That's why I follow him."

- with AAP

News Corp Australia

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