Simona Halep may have lost to Maria Sharapova in the final of the French Open, but nevertheless she enjoyed a breakthrough 2014, and it could all be down to breast reduction surgery.
The French Open final was the furthest the 22-year-old has ever gone in a Grand Slam, which is even more impressive when you consider that a quarter-final finish at the Australian Open this year had marked new ground for the up-comer. The world no.3 had been in imperious form at Roland Garros and didn't drop a single set, on the way to her meeting with Sharapova, despite coming up against some respected opposition.
Britain's leading female Heather Watson was brushed aside in round two and Halep has backed that performance up with wins over the likes of seeded stars Sloane Stephens, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Sara Errani, before she beat Andrea Petkovic to book a place in the final.
Her relative success at the tournament provides stark contrast to a difficult beginning as a professional. She won the French Open as a junior but failed to transfer that form to the next level.
Halep, at 18-years-old, felt that her large breasts were the issue and she underwent a mastopexy to reduce her bust size from 34DD to 34C.
At the time she commented: "It’s the weight that troubles me. My ability to react quickly, my breasts make me uncomfortable when I play.
"I don’t like them in my everyday life, either. I would have gone for surgery even if I hadn’t been a sportswoman."
After undergoing the surgery, it still took some time before she adjusted to her new figure. However 2013 marked the turning point when she was named the most improved player on the WTA circuit.
She enjoyed wins over the likes of Agnieszka Radwańska, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic over the course of the year. Halep now has seven WTA, and six ITF titles to her name but none of her previous triumphs would have come close to if she had be able to dethrone Sharapova.
The Russian star foiled Halep in the final of the Madrid Open despite losing the first set and once again prevented the 22-year-old from exacting her revenge.
The former world no.1 is managed to repeat her 2012 Roland Garros win, a triumph which completed the 27-year-old's Career Slam.
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