Henin Hangs It Up At Young Age
Justine Henin, the 25-year-old world No 1, has cut herself down in her prime, has taken the scissors to her own strings, with her announcement yesterday that she was quitting tennis with immediate and dramatic effect.
'It’s the end of a wonderful adventure, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time,' the Belgian said of her surprising decision to junk all her tennis tomorrows and become the first woman to go out while at the very top.
The enthusiasm and 'the emotion' have gone for Henin, so this year’s French Open, which starts in Paris a week on Sunday on the Roland Garros clay courts that she affectionately calls 'my garden', is suddenly wide open.
The dinky Belgian overcame her lack of inches to play an elegant brand of tennis, including a backhand as beautiful as anything in the Louvre, and she would have gone to Roland Garros to attempt to win her fourth successive French Open title, and her fifth overall.
To add to her four trophies at Roland Garros, Henin also won the US Open twice, the Australian Open once and a gold medal at the Athens Olympics.
The only big prize she missed out on was Wimbledon, though she played in two finals.
Her last match was a dismal third-round defeat by the Russian Dinara Safina in Berlin last week.
'I’m leaving as the world No 1 and that’s important, and it’s always better to go out at the top,' Henin said. 'I’ve been driving my career on emotion, but I haven’t felt that emotion since winning the season-ending championships in Madrid last year. At Madrid I felt I had reached the climax of my career.
'I’d thought about taking a break, but in the end I didn’t think it was the right decision. I decided on returning from Berlin to stop now. I leave without any regrets and I know it’s the right decision.'