How Serena Williams’ former coach brought Simona Halep back from the brink of tennis retirement
If you’ve been following the ongoing drama swirling around Serena Williams’ long-running battle with diabetes, you’ve likely heard that her former coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, has been accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The details have been particularly damaging: reports indicate that he had allegedly forced a 14-year-old Williams to perform oral sex on him, forced his hand down the back of her skirt, and masturbated in front of her. In the fallout, Williams has announced that she will take the “prescribed amount” of medication in order to continue on with her tennis career—which is, of course, the first step in the long battle, and the second step, if we’re being honest.
It’s hard not to sympathize with Williams. After nearly five years on the sidelines, she continues to put up with physical pain and exhaustion that she doesn’t want to take for granted—and a sport in which she hasn’t appeared on the court since 2012, and whose fan base is suffering, to boot. So when she told the Associated Press that she would be taking the medication, to “fight and survive” what she perceives as an endless cycle of injury, in her words, a “carnival of negativity,” it’s hard to not get the sense that she was responding to this as a last resort.
And, at the very least, the AP interview seems to indicate that Williams doesn’t view this as her last resort. Instead, she sees the medication, which she describes as a “prolonged struggle with a chronic disease,” as a strategy to keep fighting, one that she believes will ultimately end in a more sustainable long-term plan.
In the past, Williams’s approach to medical treatment—and her willingness to take it—has been as inconsistent and contradictory as her rise to the top. To some, however, it’s been a point of pride, a show of character and resiliency—a “tough love” approach to beating off chronic disease. But in an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, Williams also makes it clear that she’s not doing this “for fun.” She says she’s doing this for