Serena Williams appears to hint at an extra Wimbledon title after drug ban shock

Serena Williams congratulates SImona Halep at Wimbledon Credit: Alamy
Serena Williams congratulates SImona Halep at Wimbledon Credit: Alamy

Serena Willians finished her career with 23 Grand Slam titles and seven Wimbledon wins, but she appears to be hinting that an eighth All England Club crown may now come her way.

Shortly after Simona Halep was banned for four years for a doping offence, Williams put out a message on Twitter that read: 8 is a better number.

Williams retired from tennis last year and has just had her second child, but he competitive fire is clearly still burning.

While there was no context added to the message, the Tennis Channel and other Twitter users asked whether this was Willaims suggesting she should be handed an eighth Wimbledon title.

Williams lost to Halep in the 2019 Wimbledon final, as she was trying to seal a 24th Grand Slam title to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record.

Halep’s ban relates to a failed drug test at the 2022 US Open, so it will be interesting to see if Williams follows up with an additional message to clarify her tweet.

Halep has been banned for four years for two doping offences.

The Romanian, who triumphed at the All England Club in 2019, had been provisionally suspended since last October having tested positive for the blood-boosting drug roxadustat at the 2022 US Open.

She was subsequently charged with irregularities in her Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) and both charges have been upheld following an independent tribunal.

Halep, who has taken to social media several times over the past year to voice unhappiness at the time the process was taking, gave evidence at the tribunal in London on June 28 and 29.

She argued roxadustat had got into her system via a contaminated supplement but, while the tribunal accepted she had taken such a substance, it “determined the volume the player ingested could not have resulted in the concentration of roxadustat found in the positive sample”.

The Athlete Biological Passport programme collates various blood parameters over time in an effort to spot any inconsistencies in the data that could indicate a possible doping offence.

The charge was also upheld, with the tribunal deciding “they had no reason to doubt the unanimous ‘strong opinion’ reached by each of the three independent Athlete Passport Management Unit experts that ‘likely doping’ was the explanation for the irregularities in Halep’s profile.”

The 31-year-old, who also won the French Open in 2018 and is the highest-profile tennis player to fail a doping test since Maria Sharapova in 2016, quickly issued a statement confirming she would appeal.

“Today, a tribunal under the Tennis Anti-Doping Programme announced a tentative decision in my case,” said Halep.

“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. I refused to accept their decision of a four-year ban.

“While I am grateful to finally have an outcome following numerous unfounded delays and a feeling of living in purgatory for over a year, I am both shocked and disappointed by their decision.

“I intend to appeal this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and pursue all legal remedies against the supplement company in question.”

READ MORE: Timeline of the shocking Simona Halep drug ban – and what comes next

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