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Justine Henin

Justine HeninJustine Henin (born 1 June 1982), formerly known as Justine Henin-Hardenne is a professional Belgian tennis player. At the age of 12 she lost her mother, who died of cancer. Her family is pretty numerous: she has also two brothers and one sister. Another child of her parents died before she was brought to life. The relationship with her father was not a good one. In 2007 she contacted her family again, after a long period of time. On November 16, 2002 she married Pierre-Yves Hardenne, but unfortunately they divorced in 2007.

Henin has won 43 WTA singles titles and seven Grand Slam singles titles, including four French Open titles, one Australian Open title, and two US Open titles. She has also won the year-ending Sony Ericsson Championships twice and the singles gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Tennis experts cite her mental toughness, the completeness and variety of her game, her footspeed and footwork, and her one-handed backhand (which John McEnroe has described as the best single-handed backhand in the women’s or men’s game) as the principal reasons for her success.

Many critics and all-time-great players consider Henin to be the single best tennis player of her generation. Upon Henin’s first retirement from the WTA in the early part of the 2008 season, Billie Jean King said that “pound for pound, Henin is the best tennis player of her generation.” as well as that “Justine is the best women’s athlete I’ve ever seen.” Andre Agassi said of Henin, “Justine Henin is one of the most talented women ever to have played the game of tennis.” 18 time Grand Slam winner Martina Navratilova said that “She is head and shoulders above everyone else…” John McEnroe concurred, saying that Henin is “The player I most like to watch. She has the best backhand in the game—male or female.”

Retirement

Henin announced her immediate retirement from professional tennis on 14 May 2008, and requested the Women’s Tennis Association to remove her name from the rankings immediately. Her announcement was a surprise because Henin was still ranked World No. 1 and was considered the favorite for the 2008 French Open, where she would have been the 3-time defending champion. She said she felt no sadness about her retirement because she believed it was a release from a game she had focused on for twenty years. She also said that in the future, she will be concentrating on charity and her tennis school.

Return

Belgian newspaper, Vers l’Avenir, reported on Tuesday 22 September 2009 that Henin would formally announce her return to competitive tennis after 16 months of retirement. Later that day, Justine Henin confirmed her return to competition. Henin mentioned seeing Roger Federer finally complete the grand slam of titles by winning the French Open in 2009 had been an inspiration, as had Kim Clijsters return to the tour and her victory at the US Open. Her intention is to play competitive tennis at least till the 2012 Summer Olympics which are set to be held in London.

2010

Henin made her return to tennis at the 2010 Brisbane International where she was given a wildcard. She defeated No. 2 seed Nadia Petrova, Sesil Karatantcheva, No. 7 seed Melinda Czink and No. 3 seed Ana Ivanović to make it to the final. She then lost to her Belgian compatriot Kim Clijsters in the final, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6) in a 2 hour, 23 minute match.

At the 2010 Australian Open, Henin was given a wildcard as an unranked player. Henin started off with a straight sets victory over Belgian Kirsten Flipkens. She set up the most highly anticipated second round match of the tournament with No. 5 seed Elena Dementieva, whom she defeated 7-5, 7-6(5). Lasting two hours and fifty minutes, commentators felt this match was worthy of a final. Henin approached the net forty-three times, winning thirty-five of those points. In the third round, she defeated No. 28 seed Alisa Kleybanova from Russia; where she made a comeback to win 3-6, 6-4, 6-2. In the fourth round she faced World No. 16 and fellow Belgian compatriot, Yanina Wickmayer, defeating her in 3 sets 7-6, 1-6, 6-3. She then defeated No. 19 seed Nadia Petrova from Russia in the quarter-finals. Henin won 7-6, 7-5 and was down 0-3 in the second set. She then went on to defeat Zheng Jie from China in the semi-finals in convincing fashion 6-1, 6-0, setting up a clash with World No. 1 Serena Williams in the 2010 Australian Open ladies final. This was the first time in their long rivalry that Henin and Serena Williams met in a Grand Slam Final. Henin would eventually fall to Serena Williams in 3 sets 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

A wildcard was granted for Henin to compete at the 2010 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, a Premier Mandatory tournament. In the first round, Henin defeated Magdalena Rybarikova 6-2, 6-2 in a little over an hour. Henin then lost to Gisela Dulko, 2-6, 6-1, 4-6, in a 2 hour match. The result gave her a new rank of World No. 33 as of 22 March 2010. She defeated Jill Craybas of USA 6-2,6-2 in the first round of Sony Ericsson Open. In the second round, Henin defeated World No. 6 Elena Dementieva 6-3, 6-2 in 90 minutes. In the third round, Henin defeated Dominika Cibulkova in 93 minutes, 6-4, 6-4 advancing to the quarterfinals where Henin thrashed Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-4 to set up a meeting in the quarterfinals with World No.2 Caroline Wozniacki. After defeating World No. 2 Wozniacki in a three-set match, she fell to fellow compatriot Kim Clijsters in a semifinal battle, 2-6, 7-6 (3), 6-7 (6). Following her Sony Ericsson Open performance, Henin moved into the top 25 for the first time since her comeback.

Henin’s next tournament was the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart. Henin played through this tournament injured, having previously broken her left pinkie during Fed Cup practice. In the first round, Henin saw off German qualifier Julia Görges 7-6 (3), 6-1. In her second round, she defeated World No. 12 and fellow Belgian Yanina Wickmayer, defeating her for the 2nd consecutive time, 6-3, 7-5. In the quarterfinals, she defeated fourth seed and World No. 7 Jelena Jankovic 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 for the tenth time in her career. She defeated World No. 20 Shahar Pe’er in the semifinals, 6-3, 6-2, and reached her third final in five tournaments this year. She faced World No. 10 Samantha Stosur. Henin won the final 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 in 100 minutes, to procure her first title in 2010 (in her 3rd final). Winning this tournament also sent Henin into the Top 20 for the first time since her comeback.

At the 2010 Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open she was defeated in the first round by eventual champion Aravane Rezaï 4-6, 7-5, 6-0. As a result of this shock loss, Henin dropped out of the Top 20 to No.23. Henin then participated at the 2010 French Open, seeded 22nd, the second grand slam of the year where she has won four previous titles. In the 1st round, she defeated Tsvetana Pironkova in 89 minutes, 6-4, 6-3. In the 2nd round, Henin faced Klara Zakopalova and defeated her 6-3, 6-3. In the third round, facing former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova, Henin ended her streak of consecutive sets at 40, losing the 2nd set to Sharapova but going on to win 6-2, 3-6, 6-3. She has now tied the number of consecutive sets won at the French Open with Helen Wills Moody. She lost to World No. 7 Samantha Stosur 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the fourth round, her first defeat at Roland Garros since 2004.

Henin began the grass court season at the 2010 UNICEF Open where she was the top seed for the first time since her return. In the first three rounds she defeated Angelique Kerber, Roberta Vinci and Kristina Barrois in straight sets. She then demolished No. 5 seed Alexandra Dulgheru in the semifinals, 6-2, 6-2. In the final, she defeated No. 7 seed Andrea Petkovic to win her 43rd title and second of the year.

At the 2010 Wimbledon Championships, Henin is the No. 17 seed and two time finalist. She defeated Anastasija Sevastova 6-4, 6-3, Kristina Barrois 6-3, 7-5 and No. 12 seed Nadia Petrova 6-1, 6-4 in the first three rounds. She will now play No. 8 seed and Belgian compatriot, Kim Clijsters in the fourth round.

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