5 Minutes With… Simona Halep

by Nicholas McCarvel

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It’s been an epic few months for 21-year-old Simona Halep, a Romanian who was barely inside the top 70 heading into Rome in May and entered the New Haven Open at Yale as the world No. 23, just outside of a seeding for the event. Halep has continued her hot play this week, beating Daniela Hantuchova, Carla Suarez Navarro and Ekaterina Makarova to make her way into the semifinals. We caught up with Simona to chat about her dream city, a super power she’d love to have and more.

New Haven Open blog: You played handball growing up, is that right?
Simona Halep: I played in school. When I was in fifth through eighth grade, I played on a school team. We were competitive, but it was just at my school. I was playing tennis and it was the first priority for me. It was just for fun. When I’m home, I go to handball matches there to watch – it’s very popular in my hometown.

NHO: If you had to pick one city from all those that you travel to throughout the year to live in, which would it be?
Halep: Rome. I like the food there and the people – they are very relaxed; they talk a lot and they laugh a lot. I love mozzarella with tomato and olive oil. And pasta and pizza… they are all very good!

NHO: Does your great run there this year factor into your love for the city, too?
Halep: I don’t have a special place in my heart for it because I did well there, but I just love the place. I don’t have a special place [to play]… I want to do well everywhere.

NHO: Last year you had the chance to go to the Olympics. What was the most memorable part of that experience?
Halep: It was very cold! [Laughing.] It was fantastic. It was such a good memory. I had such a great experience playing tennis there and representing my country.

NHO: Name one super power you’d love to have if you could.
Halep: To fly, maybe? Actually, when I came here from Cincinnati I flew through Philadelphia and my flight from Cincinnati to Philadelphia was very bumpy and I changed my mind when we landed. So I rented a car instead. I wanted to drive from Philadelphia. Sometimes you just don’t want to go on the plane again. So we drove five hours. It was OK.

NHO: If you could spend the day with any celebrity, who would it be?
Halep: Gerard Butler! We would have pizza in Rome [laughing].

NHO: We noticed on Facebook that you’re especially good at taking selfies. What’s your method?
Halep: [Laughing.] OK… first, my hair. And then my nose. I tilt my head certain ways and make sure it all looks good. If not, I try again [laughing].

NHO: Brilliant. We’ll try those! Thanks Simona, good luck.

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