An old photo showing the former Romanian football star Gheorghe Hagi and the new country’s sports star, the tennis player Simona Halep- when she was kid, is now popular among Romanian internauts. Halep is a new sensation not only in her country, but also worldwide: she is playing today the final at Roland Garros, against Maria Sharapova, and, in less than 2 years, has become no.3 in the international tennis, starting from the rank no.47 in the end of 2012. NY Times tennis correspondent writes that the final it’s “Sharapova’s big cuts and aggressive footwork against Halep’s grace and lighter touch, as well as Sharapova’s sound and fury against Halep’s Zen garden introspection”.
Having a tennis player for the first time in 30 years in the final at Roland Garros makes a big headline in Romanian media and on the social networks. For some sport fans, it is a compensation for Romania not being with its footbal team, the most popular sport, at World Cup in Brazil. “Maybe this summer we will celebrate a tennis victory, and not one in a World Cup footbal game like we used to years ago”, a Facebook user wrote.
Simona Halep’s victory after victory at the French Open in Paris finally captivate also those who are not so familiar with tennis or with sport, generally speak. For some, it is a matter of national pride, like it used to be when in the 70s Ilie Nastase was one of the best tennis players, having five Grand Slam finals; or Virginia Ruzici, former winner at Roland Garros more than 30 years ago; or like, more, recently, the Romanian football players playing the World Cup tournaments in the 90s.
This huge popularity in a country without too many international sports stars has made some politicians to try to get some image profits of that. But Romanian internauts react fast: they created a Facebook page demanding the Romanian Prime Minister not to attend the tennis French Open final in Paris.
Halep’s story has started in Constanta, a Black Sea city, but she was not the sport star of the family in the beginning. Her brother was. Later, Halep has made her way to the international tennis, helped by her family. Her father, an entrepreneur, said he went to banks to get 50 000 Euros per year, the cost for his daughter being in the international tennis.