Justine Henin is coming back to tour with a new attitude, she says, which apparently means treating reporters like therapists. In interviews with the Times and The Independent, held during last weekend’s exhibition tournament in Beligium, Justine opens up about the loneliness of retirement, her mission to win Wimbledon, and her paralyzing fear of the Williams sisters. Good stuff:
She says she’s determined to hold that Venus Rosewater Dish:
“The comeback is not all about Wimbledon but it’s a big part of it. The French Open is the tournament of my heart; there’s been a long love story for me there. But Wimbledon is the one I never won and it’s going to be my challenge now and I’ll never give up.”
But she’ll need to get over her fear of Venus:
“(I never won Wimbledon) because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself as a grass-court player. Because I am always scared of playing the Williams sisters on grass, especially Venus. ”
“Part of the reason I lost to [Marion] Bartoli in the (2007) semi-final was because I was scared to face Venus in the final.”
The Times article adds, helpfully: “now she believes it will be different.” But doesn’t say what she plans to do, except “play more grass-court tennis” and change her mindset. I hate to be a doubter, but it’s going to take more than a chipper attitude and a win at ‘s-Hertogenbosch to take down Venus and Serena on grass. Especially if Serena hasn’t forgotten a certain hand incident from the 2003 French Open. But I wish Justine luck! After watching a shell-shocked Dinara fold to Venus in this year’s semis, it will be nice to have a contender with a little chutzpah.
You’ve probably heard that Justine credits Roger Federer’s French Open victory with fueling her own desire to complete a career slam. But did you know that Justine also hears voices? And that she wears a special passion cap? (via The Independent)
“I started to feel something strange (while watching Federer win Roland Garros).” She describes this as a “little voice inside me” that so surprised her that “for the first few days, I didn’t want to hear it”. These words are very personal: “I couldn’t believe that this thing inside my heart that I thought was dead was coming back — this thought that I could walk on the court again.”
So she ignored it for a while, but the voice grew stronger. “Finally,” she says, “I had the courage to put on my cap and take my racket and go on the court and try and see how it felt. And that very first time, I felt it, I still had the passion.” The cap is significant, she says. “One of my friends saw me wearing the cap and said: ‘Now I know.’ ”
But Justine didn’t put her passion cap back on just because of Roger Federer. From the sounds of it, Justine just didn’t enjoy retirement:
“Tennis wasn’t the only problem I had in trying to find a good balance in my life. When I retired it was because I thought that tennis made it difficult for me to find stability, but that wasn’t the case. It didn’t make it easy, for sure, but there were a lot of other things in my life that I needed to fix.”.
“To start with I kept running, though my knee was hurting, which was why I had surgery on it at the end of last year, when I also had an operation on my eyes. After that I just felt: ‘Don’t talk to me about sport, about tennis’. I didn’t want to do anything. I stopped completely for six months. I started to feel pretty bad. I was feeling alone, I didn’t know who I was any more, I didn’t know what to do with myself. It was difficult, though it got better after a few months.”
“I want to have a family one day, but over the last year I’ve realised that isn’t part of my life at the moment. I want to go back to tennis, though I need to do things differently, with more serenity.”
Or, maybe she watched this video:
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