Halep hopes to learn from on-court panic attack

Simona Halep
Simona Halep acknowledges the spectators after losing her second round match to Zheng Qinwen. Photo: Reuters/Dylan Martinez

Paris: Simona Halep said she would have to learn to put less pressure on herself after suffering a panic attack during her second-round loss at the French Open on Thursday.

The former world No. 1 and 2018 French Open champion called for the doctor during the third set of her loss to Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen on Court Simonne Mathieu.

"It was just a panic attack. It happened," she told reporters with a smile afterwards.

"I didn't know how to handle it, because I don't have it often. I don't really know why it happened, because I was leading the match, I was playing well.

"I lost it. I couldn't focus. After the match, was pretty tough. But now I'm good. I'm recovered, and I will learn from this episode. Nothing like dangerous, in my opinion."

The mental health of top women athletes has been brought into focus over the last year after Naomi Osaka and American gymnast Simone Biles spoke out about their struggles.

Halep, who lost three Grand Slam finals before winning majors at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, said last year she sometimes struggled to handle the pressure of being an elite athlete.

The 30-year-old Romanian said she had been given the all clear by doctors after her panic attack and was determined to learn from the experience.

"It's just a tennis match, so I have to (be) a little bit more relaxed. I probably put pressure on myself too much, because I really wanted to do well," she added.

"I felt good. I practiced. I worked hard. But just didn't happen, and probably I got a little bit of panic during that thinking, overthinking.

"It happened. I have to accept it. It's something normal that everybody has. I will be better next time, for sure. I don't have these things so it was new for me."

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