Simona Halep returns to the court, at the exhibition match with Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, at the Sports Festival. She will be paired with Andrei Pavel

Romanian tennis player Simona Halep, currently suspended due to doping allegations, will return in front of fans and play alongside Andrei Pavel in the exhibition match with the legendary Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, at Sports Festival 2024, the organizers announced on Thursday, January 18, in a press release.

The event takes place on June 15, at 18.00, at BTarena, in Cluj-Napoca, during the fifth edition of Sports Festival.

“Four of the greatest players in world tennis will play at the exceptional exhibition organized within Sports Festival 2024: Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf will perform alongside the best player in Romania’s history, Simona Halep, and the second highest ranked Romanian player, after Ilie Nastase, Andrei Pavel. Agassi and Graf will play for the first time in front of the Romanian public, and the formula of four, together with Halep and Pavel, is a global premiere.

“I lived special moments in Cluj, on that wonderful field arranged during the Sports Festival. I can’t wait to come back and play there, alongside Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf,” said Simona Halep.

According to Andrei Pavel, June 15 will be “a wonderful day”. “I can’t wait to see them again, especially Andre, with whom I have a history… We played together seven times, we beat him once. They’re amazing people. See you there,” said the former great Romanian player, currently coach.

Simona Halep also played at the Sports Festival in two events that brought thousands of tennis fans to the multipurpose hall.

The first was in 2019, when Simona Halep offered several funny moments alongside Marius Copil, Daniela Hantuchova and Fabio Fognini. Neither did her then-coach, Darren Cahill.

The second was a gala event in 2022: the retirement match of Horia Tec─âu, Olympic vice-champion and double Grand Slam doubles winner, in which Robert Lindstedt and Marius Copil also participated.

This will be the athlete’s first appearance on the tennis court after being suspected following allegations of doping with roxadustat.

The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) announced on September 12 that an independent court suspended Simona Halep for 4 years due to violations of the Tennis Anti-Doping Program (TADP).

Halep was found guilty of two anti-doping violations, the use of a banned substance, roxadustat, and a “prohibited method/substance” during the 2022 season, a conclusion reached by ITIA experts based on data from her biological passport.

Simone’s team explained her positive test for roxadustat by claiming that a dietary supplement she used before the US Open 2022, a collagen powder, Keto MCT, was contaminated.

Simona Halep later announced that she would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The appeal was filed by his legal team on October 24.

Halep has been provisionally suspended since October 2022, a suspension that the court settled from the period of ineligibility. The suspension of the former world number one is valid from October 7, 2022 until October 6, 2026.

Em