Former world No 1 Simona Halep no longer afraid of Covid after receiving vaccine

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Simona Halep told reporters on Tuesday that she now feels “protected” against Covid after being vaccinated. There has been a growing debate about player vaccination in tennis and whether or not the ATP and WTA will make the jab mandatory.

The 29-year-old spoke to reporters after winning her first round match at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Halep needed three sets to overcome Magda Linette and set up a second round match with Jessica Pegula on Wednesday.

Halep said: “I don’t feel afraid, because I am vaccinated.

“I feel protected. I am taking care. I wear the mask when many people are around.”

Tennis, like many sports, faced a forced hiatus last year as the pandemic took hold globally. It returned last summer without fans and Halep, like many others, chose not to travel to last year’s US Open in order to alleviate risk of getting the virus.

Both the men’s and women’s authorities have indicated that players should try and get jabbed to minimise disruption and risk, but as of yet neither the ATP or WTA has decided to make vaccination obligatory.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas revealed at his own press conference in Cincinnati that he had not yet been vaccinated, and that the only reason he would get jabbed would be if the ATP made it compulsory.

When asked about the potential for that to happen, the 23-year-old said: “No-one has told me anything. No-one has made it a mandatory thing to be vaccinated.

“At some point I will have to, I’m pretty sure about it. But so far it hasn’t been mandatory to compete, so I haven’t done it no.”

Novak Djokovic said in May that he doesn’t want the vaccine to be obligatory, and has failed to clarify his own vaccination status.

The world number one said: “I don’t think it’ll come to that. I hope not, because I’ve always believed in freedom of choice. And I will keep the decision as to whether I’m going to get vaccinated or not to myself.”

Halep’s win against Linette was her first since May after she was forced to miss three months with a calf injury.

After the win she said: “The main goal is just to be healthy and to play as much as possible, because I need the matches, official matches.

“Even if I practice a lot, home is not the same. To build the confidence, I have to keep playing matches. Hopefully I can win a few more.”



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