Simona Halep was unable to defend the Wimbledon title she won in 2019 due to an injury-plagued 2021.
CNN  — 

An injury-stricken season last year nearly drove former world No. 1 Simona Halep to retirement, she said in an interview with the WTA on Thursday.

“The injury last year made me feel that with stopping for four months, I cannot get the rhythm back,” Halep said. “I’m 30, so I thought always at 30 it will be tough. I had this in my mind, I don’t know why. Losing some matches, getting injured again was not easy. Also in Australia, also in Indian Wells.

“So I was doubting myself that my body can still hold for the highest level in tennis,” she continued. “So yeah, probably I was super close to stopping. I didn’t have that energy and that confidence that I can still be on tour and at the highest level.”

A calf injury forced Halep to withdraw from the French Open, Wimbledon and the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Unable to collect rankings points, she plummeted from world No. 3 to No. 13 – her first foray outside the top 10 since January 2014.

Then, an adductor injury hampered her recovery, but she eventually returned to grand slam action at the US Open where she reached the fourth round.

This year, Halep has started to rebound, announcing Patrick Mouratoglou as her full-time coach earlier this month. Mouratoglou is one of tennis’ top coaches and is best known for his partnership with Serena Williams.

Halep won her first-round match at the Madrid Open on Thursday.

“I feel like I can relate to him, and he has enough power to lead me and I needed a person that can lead me,” Halep said to the WTA.

“Nobody can compare with Serena, so I’m not going to do that now. He knows I’m a different person, I have a different style of playing, a different structure of the person. And we don’t really talk about that. We just focus on ourselves, how we have, with what we have to do, to become the best version of myself.”

With Mouratoglou, Halep is working to develop a more offensive strategy as she prepares for the upcoming French Open.

“I kind of knew from before that I have to be a little bit more aggressive because the tennis is changing, in my opinion, and it’s a lot of power,” Halep said. “So I could say that some players could overpower me if I was, like, 100 meters back from the court.

“I didn’t have like enough power or enough things to do to overplay them a little bit. So the power was getting me. Now, being more aggressive, I think I have a better chance.”

Halep is currently in action at the Mutua Madrid Open where she defeated Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-3 in the first round on Thursday. She will face world No. 2 Paula Badosa in the second round.