Frenchman Mouratoglou has coached Williams since 2012, helping her to 10 major titles and Olympic gold between then and 2017. Since then, and after a string of health problems which followed her complicated childbirth, she has failed to add to her 23 major singles titles and remains one short of Margaret Court’s record 24-major haul.
Analysis: Good news for Halep, bad news for Williams
Williams’s loss is undoubtedly Halep’s gain here. Mouratoglou has established himself as the leading and most high profile coach in tennis since linking up with Williams.
His academy in the French Riviera is the sport’s premier base for up and coming stars, and has overseen the development of world no 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas as well as US teenage talent Coco Gauff.
Never shying from the limelight, Mouratoglou is known for his colorful character, which has landed him in trouble during his time with Williams – most famously at the US Open final in 2018. But it remains a major coup for Halep to secure his full tutelage- time.
Halep, 30, has been on the hunt for a replacement since splitting from long-time coach Darren Cahill last September. Injuries over the past year have pushed her down to 20th in the rankings, and Mouratoglou may be able to provide the consistent messaging to help her rekindle the form that saw her win the 2018 French Open and beat Williams to the Wimbledon title the following year.
Mouratoglou’s decision suggests that Williams is unlikely to make her comeback at SW19 this summer, as fans had hoped. Though she has remained in the public eye in recent months, partly to promote King Richard, the Hollywood biopic of her family’s life, there has been no news about how close she is to getting back to action in court.
On Wednesday, after news of Mouratoglou’s change in allegiance was announced, Williams made no immediate statement of her own, but instead posted that she was at the Bitcoin 2022 conference hanging out with NFL star Odell Beckham Jr.
There was speculation last season, after her tearful exit at the Australian Open, that she was on the brink of retiring, and the injury troubles that followed have not abated those rumours.
She has struggled to consistently re-establish her place at the top of tennis since returning from maternity leave in 2018 and her 10-month absence since Wimbledon last year has caused her ranking to plummet to 246. Considering Williams usually reserves her court-time for only a handful of the most important events, any potential route to a future title will be all the more difficult unseeded.
Like Roger Federer, Williams turned 40 last summer, so time is not on her side. While Federer has spoken openly about his intentions to get back to playing, despite knee surgeries so far keeping him sidelined, Williams has not shared any plans. In an interview with CNN last month, she said she had “not given up” on her goal of reaching that 24th major title—the only record that eludes her from her—but the likelihood of that happening anytime soon is now slim.