Some news that has been slightly overlooked in light of everything else in the last week: the Beijing Olympics will be missing one more gold medal holder since Justine Henin has announced her (shock) retirement.
Described as the best of her generation by former Champion Billie-Jean King, Henin is the reigning World no 1, and French & US Open Champion. For emotional reasons she has quit at the top of her game.
Her coach (and close friend) Carlos Rodriguez explains her decision:
“She used tennis as an outlet for her emotions and finally with her life now reconciled, she no longer has the fire that drove her to success.”
It’s interesting to note the reaction of fellow world no 1 Roger Federer who clearly struggles to contemplate losing the will to win:
“I couldn’t imagine deciding out of the blue to retire, especially if I was number one.”
Henin’s exquisite backhand won her many fans (including one right here) and was her main weapon in defeating formidablely larger and stronger opponents. Henin’s career has coincided with the age of the big-hitters: Davenport, Venus, Serina and Sharapova. But her strength of mind and determination was key to helping her through great ups and downs in personal and professional life. 2007 was the year that she conquered both aspects of her life.
Double grand slam winner, the first player in 10 years to win 10 titles in a season and the first player in history to win over US$5m in a season. She split from her husband of 4 years, and by Roland Garos (May) was reconciled with her father and siblings.
After a year like that life holds new challenges for Justine Henin. The tennis world’s loss is also the loss of the Beijing Olympic Games.