The Justine Henin comeback rumors have reached such a frenzy that the papers are reporting on what Henin isn’t saying.
Here’s the (non) story from the Associated Press:
Justine Henin has gone from confirming she won’t return to competitive tennis to refusing to discuss her future.
The retired Henin was asked again Thursday if she would return to the sport. The answer is no longer the definitive “no” it once was. It is now something more like, “Come back and ask me later.”
A UNICEF goodwill ambassador, she tried to keep the press conference focused on tetanus vaccinations for mothers and babies in developing nations.
“We are here to discuss child mortality in the world, a subject matter which is important enough to center on this today,” she said at UNICEF headquarters.
Got that, folks? Read between the lines and it’s obvious that by “we are here to discuss child mortality” Justine means, “tell Clijsters her ass is grass.”
The AP also reports that Henin has pulled out of an upcoming theater gig, “fueling rumors that she needed time for tennis practice.”
So far Justine hasn’t actually said anything to make us believe she’s considering coming out of retirement, a state she unexpectedly entered in May, 2008, while still ranked No. 1 in the world. Since her countrywoman, rival and fellow retiree, Kim Clijsters, announced her own return to tour this March, Justine’s gone on the record saying things like competitive tennis “is truly a page that has been turned,” and “the desire to play is not coming back. I don’t miss tennis.”
Regardless of what Justine is or is not saying, everybody else around the tennis world is talking about her return. Bud Collins, Pam Shriver and the rest of the ESPN crew have dropped so many hints during this week’s broadcast that I’m starting to wonder if Justine will be subbing for Yanina Wickmayer in the US Open semifinals. GTT readers are sharing their own inside info (those practice partners have loose lips!) And then there’s Mrs. Carlos Rodriguez, the wife of Justine’s longtime coach and someone who you wouldn’t want working for your crime family:
“Something is in the offing,” She reportedly told Belgian paper Vers l’Avenir in August, “But I’m not allowed to talk about it.”
Coach Carlos Rodriguez obviously hasn’t been talking to his wife (spending all of his time on the practice courts, maybe?) He sidestepped the comeback question like so: “There’s nobody telling me of a return. We’ve not spoken about that. I am really astonished.”
Rodriguez did confirm that Justine has been training “two or three times a week,” supposedly to get in shape for a pair of exhibitions she has planned at the end of this year in Belgium and Dubai.
Yeah, we all know what that means. Exhibition one month, Major semifinals a couple months later. See you Down Under, Justine!
(Interesting side note: Canada’s National Post points out that anti-doping rules would require Henin to give tennis authorities three months notice before her return. So look out for that press conference on October 18th!)
Here are some videos (in French) featuring Justine Henin’s work as a Unicef Ambassador. The press conference:
Justine visiting the Congo:
Seeing the work she’s doing for UNICEF, I can understand why Justine may not comeback. Maybe there really is more to life than tennis. . .