Will the thought of Justine Henin back on the court – sporting her no-nonsense Adidas kit and a stick-straight ponytail – strike fear into the hearts of her WTA colleagues? Will the threat of her steely resolve, butterfly feet and whipping forehand cut beach holidays short? Will the words of Carlos Rodriguez make the blood of many a hitting-partner-cum-coach run cold?
“The desire to win Wimbledon is one of the main reasons she’s come back and I’ll do everything to help her do it.”
Here’s my best guess at what everyone’s thinking.
Dinara Safina: “No! Not another Real No. 1!”
A major milestone on Dinara’s journey to the top of the rankings was her win over Justine Henin in Berlin, 2008. Justine retired just days later, while still ranked No. 1 in the world. Safina’s victory over Henin and subsequent success seemed to represent a changing of the guard in women’s tennis. And now, just sixteen months later, Justine says she’s ready to compete with the best again. And with another multi-Major winner in the mix, the still slam-less Safina’s spot at the top appears to be more of a fluke of circumstance than the WTA’s new status quo.
Safina/Henin head-to-head: 1/5. Dinara’s victory marked the end of Justine’s professional career.
Serena Williams via Twitter: “Anyone know what time my anger management class is?”
Serena Williams is scared of no one. But her recent blow ups, threatening bodily harm on a lines person at the US Open and on a cheating opponent, Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, at the French, have revealed a dangerous crack in Serena’s body armour. If Justine tries to pull anything like the French Open’s infamous “hand incident” again (click here), we should all be scared.
Serena/Henin head-to-head: 7-6. Justine has the 4/2 advantage in Majors.
Venus Williams: “It’s great for women’s tennis! But Wimbledon is mine! All mine!”
Didn’t Justine get the memo? Wimbledon belongs to Venus. She may play puzzling, ramshackle tennis at other tournaments, but when it comes to the greens of Wimbledon, she’s the one (for Serena) to beat. Venus loves the place so much, I think she’d marry it if she could:
“I just love Wimbledon. I have true love in my heart and when you have true love you do your best and nothing can stop you.” (via The Independent)
I suspect Venus has herself to blame for Justine’s comeback. Watching Venus destroy World No. 1 Dinara Safina, 6-1, 6-0 in this year’s semifinals must have made Justine’s Wimbledon dream seem pretty achievable.
Venus/Henin head-to-head: 7-2. At Wimbledon, Venus has beaten Henin both times they’ve played.
Kim Clijsters: “Whatever, JuJu!”
Who would blame Miss Congeniality for being a little peeved? She was thinking this postpartum comeback would be a breeze – some training, a couple exos and a Major title or two between Jada’s play dates. But with her Belgian rival returning things are bound to get more stressful – and less smiley.
Really, how could Kimmie not roll her eyes at this: “Subconsciously it might have had an impact,” Henin said, referring to Clijsters’ success.“But it certainly was not the most important reason.“
Clijsters/Henin head-to-head: 10/12. Justine enjoys a 5/2 advantage over Clijsters in Majors.
Melanie Oudin: “Dang, there go all the Justine Henin comparisons.”
I love Melanie, but I never really bought the Justine Henin comparisons the media started spouting during the US Open. Sure, they’re both small, blonde, and quick, but so what? So’s Olivier Rochus.
Oudin/Henin head-to-head: 0/0
Maria Sharapova: “Hi. I have my own problems.”
I don’t think Maria Sharapova gives a hoot about anyone else on the WTA tour now. She just wants to learn how to serve again. If anything, Justine’s return could inspire her – they played what many called the best WTA match of 2007 at the year end Championships. Maria lost that one, but then annihilated Justine a couple months later in the Australian Open quarterfinals: 6-4, 6-0. Masha went on to win that tournament and Justine started planning her singing career.
Jelena Jankovic: “I’m still JJ, right?”
Don’t worry, Jelena. Justine’s nickname is JuJu – you’re safe.
Jankovic/Henin head-to-head: 0/9.
Ana Ivanovic: “I’d like to announce my return to professional tennis!”
We all know poor Ana is struggling right now. But at least she took advantage of her window and got a Major while the time was ripe (see the photo at the top of this post.) She should just pretend she’s been retired all of this year, and announce her own comeback at the Australian Open. Shoot, stranger things have happened.
Ivanovic/Henin head-to-head: 0/4.
Oh the wild, wacky world of the WTA Tour! The Australian Open can’t come soon enough.