Henin returns to tennis in search of Wimbledon title

2009-09-24 00:00

BRUSSELS — A desire to win a first Wimbledon title is a major reason for Justine Henin’s return to the game from retirement, the seven-time Grand Slam tournament winner has revealed.

The former women’s number one, who confirmed her return yesterday, said she has been inspired by watching Roger Federer realise his dream of completing his Grand Slam slam collection at the French Open in May.

“Winning Wimbledon is a dream. It’s more than an aim, it’s really a dream,” she said.

Henin announced her return to tennis some 16 months after she retired from the game, following in the footsteps of Kim Clijsters.

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament Henin has not won.

On her website yesterday, Henin said she does not want to describe her return as a comeback, but as “a new life that opens for me”.

Speaking about her retirement in May 2008, she said: “I left tired, exhausted and lived a deep need to prove that I can live differently than only through tennis.

“I wanted to be like everyone — to live as an adult, not a child, but as a grown woman.

“These past 15 months were difficult at times, but it was very rewarding. I learned new things, and discovered more things about myself.

“These moments gave me an opportunity to focus only on myself, and it helped me realise that I still had many things yet to achieve. I need to push the limits higher, and explore new challenges.”

Henin had said late on Tuesday she will play some exhibition matches at the end of the year and then return for the 2010 season, with a first highlight the Australian Open. She plans to play until the 2012 Olympics in London.

“A fire has started to burn inside me again, a fire I thought was extinguished,” she said. “I have recharged my batteries in the past months, physically and emotionally, and will return to the circuit.”

Henin boasts seven Grand Slam titles and one Olympic gold medal. She won 41 career titles and held the world number one spot for 117 weeks. Her backhand was considered the best in the world during her career.

She is following compatriot Clijsters who came out of a two-year retirement in August and then won the U.S. Open in New York on September 13.

Clijsters welcomed Henin’s return.

“For tennis it’s fantastic to see her come back. It’s very good for women’s tennis and very good for Belgium,” she said on her website.

 

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