Saturday, May 24, 2008
After sudden retirement, Henin says she's ready to move on
PARIS -- Justine Henin is certain that she's done playing tennis.
"I don't think I will ever come back. I think that it's important just to move on," Henin said at Roland Garros on Saturday, the day before the French Open starts.
Earlier this month, she became the first woman to retire while No. 1 in the WTA rankings, opting not to try for a fourth consecutive French Open championship.
The 25-year-old Belgian said Saturday that she didn't retire because of any health issues -- she just does not feel the passion for playing tennis that carried her to seven Grand Slam singles titles.
"Now I don't need the competition to be happy. I don't need this adrenaline being in front of thousands of people to really be happy," Henin said. "I just need to be myself. I'm a simple person. I can live very easily."
She said it took her months to decide to walk away from the sport she dominated for stretches of the past few years.
Henin won a total of four French Open titles, prompting French tennis federation president Christian Bimes to say Saturday: "Justine will be one of the great names of tennis forever here in Roland Garros."
She also won the Australian Open in 2004, and the U.S. Open in 2003 and 2007. She was ranked No. 1 for more than 100 weeks and won nearly $20 million in prize money.
Henin was struggling by her standards this season, but still stunned the tennis world with her announcement -- particularly because it came right before the French Open.
"It's sad. It's a pity for tennis: The very top player quits tennis. She certainly has her own reasons. I hope she has good reasons, because it's an extreme decision," Roger Federer said Friday at Roland Garros. "What I'm surprised about is her timing, because it was so sudden."
Henin's explanation? If she didn't feel up to giving her all, she didn't feel up to giving her all, no matter where.
Even at what she called her favorite event.
"If I feel I'm at the end of my way, there is no reason why I should play this tournament," she said.
"I don't need this anymore," she continued. "I know what I did here in the past, and I don't need to live this again. I'm fine with my career. I'm really happy and proud of what I did, and I don't need to live these moments anymore."