After weeks of rumors of her return, speaking to the Belgian television station RTL, former world number one-ranked women’s player, Justine Henin, officially announced her plans to come back to the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour in January 2010.
“I am really happy and am deeply moved to be able to announce this evening that I will return to competition,” said the 27-year-old, seven-time Grand Slam champion.
Henin shocked the world by announcing her immediate retirement May 14, 2008, claiming that her drive to compete was gone for good. Things have changed in the meantime.
“There is a flame which is revived,” Henin said. “I thought it was forever extinct.”
A main goal of Henin’s return will be to add Wimbledon to her collection of seven Grand Slam titles. She reached the Wimbledon final in 2001 and 2006, losing in 2001 to Venus Williams, and in 2006 to Amelie Mauresmo.
Henin is set to launch her comeback in Australia. It is possible that Henin could end up winning the next slam, January's Australian Open. Why not? After all, Henin was always a more successful player than Kim Clijsters who came back and won the U.S. Open in her first major tournament since returning.
Yes, Henin is only 5-ft. 5-in. tall. But Henin has a backhand that is both devastatingly attractive and devastatingly effective. That backhand was the shot that brought Henin seven slam titles. At the age of 27, Henin is still young enough to be a major force in the game and a strong threat to get back to the top of the women’s rankings.
Sixteen months ago, Henin became the first player, male or female, to quit while in possession of the number one ranking. Henin's coach, Carlos Rodriguez, disclosed that his player had “lost the fire that drove her to success.” Shockingly, the world's best female tennis player had simply had enough of playing tennis.
Henin has not been out for as long as Kim Clijsters, who did not compete for a couple of years. Henin has not given birth, which means her return will not have the same emotional impact as Clijsters. Casual tennis viewers enjoyed the tale of someone winning a Grand Slam Title while caring for a child, but will there be an equal amount of interest in Henin's return? For the good of women’s tennis, let’s hope so.
Justine Henin Fact File
Liege, Belgium (01/06/82)
Residence: Monte Carlo
Height: 5-ft. 5-in.
Best World Ranking: 1
Grand Slam Titles: Seven (Australian Open in 2004; French Open in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007; U.S. Open in 2003 and 2007)
Career Singles Titles: 41
Prize Money: $19,461,375
Swaps at the Top Spot
Since Justine Henin’s retired, five players have been ranked number one in the world: Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Jelena Jankovic, Serena Williams and Dinara Safina.
May 2008: Justine Henin, the world’s number one-ranked women’s player, retires. Maria Sharapova becomes ranked number one, a position she held for three weeks.
June 2008: Ana Ivanovic becomes the world’s number one-ranked player for nine weeks.
Aug 2008: Jelena Jankovic is ranked number one for a week.
Aug 2008: Ana Ivanovic returns to the top for three weeks.
September 2008: Serena Williams takes over the top spot for four weeks.
October 2008: Jelena Jankovic returns to number one and remains there for 18 weeks.
February 2009: Serena Williams back at number one again, for 11 weeks.
April 2009: Dinara Safina becomes the world’s number one ranked player.