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Notebook: Maternity to Retirement May 28, 2009 - 5:12 PM

88030014 When is Mirka’s ‘break point’?

Five-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer is “very excited” about the impending arrival of his own little grasshopper, though he’s still vague on how the baby’s birth will affect his upcoming playing schedule, if at all. Federer married his longtime girlfriend Mirka Vavrinec in April, about a month after he announced she was expecting their first child, but has declined to be more specific about the baby’s due date, saying only that it will arrive sometime this summer.

The expectant Mirka has been in the stands for both of Federer’s matches so far this tournament, clutching her omnipresent Blackberry. “I prefer if she’s here,” the world No. 2 said on Monday. “If I see she’s okay—like today, she was feeling good—it’s simpler for me.”

Federer said that his wife hopes to be able to travel with him as much as possible this summer, though it doesn’t sound like he is planning on being up for 3 a.m. feedings the night before the U.S. Open semifinals.

“I think for my tennis life, it's just going to make it more exciting, trying to find the best ways to balance both things,” he said today. “I know from my side I'll be as professional as ever, you know, even when the baby is there.”

Henin is no Brett Favre (or Kim Clijsters)

Justine Henin squashed rumors of any possible comeback this afternoon, saying unequivocally that she has moved on from a tennis career that saw her win seven Grand Slam singles titles.

“It's been a year already [since] I stopped tennis, and I'm in the new life,” said the four-time Roland Garros champion. “It’s part of me forever, and this love story between the French Open and me keeps going on. … It brought me a lot of good things in my life.”

Henin was at Roland Garros for the naming of a street as "Justine Henin Alley." But though she said it was gratifying to return to the site of her biggest triumphs in tennis, including her first Grand Slam title in 2003, she was adamant that she has no regrets about her abrupt retirement last spring.

“I gave everything I could to my sport for 20 years, so I don't necessarily need to make a break,” Henin said. “I need to have new challenges. I need to prove things to myself—really basic things. I don't want to become an ordinary young woman, but I want to be back to a normal life, because, you know, living on the tour with all the traveling around the globe, that's not reality.”

Looking blonder and a bit softer than she did in her days on tour, Henin said she picked up a racquet only three or four times last year and had knee surgery in October. This spring, in anticipation of some upcoming exhibitions, she’s gone back to the gym to work on her fitness. “That's a good feeling, because I missed, you know, pushing my limits physically,” Henin said.

There’s no indication that she’ll be tempted to return to competitive tennis, however. While her compatriot Kim Clijsters plans to rejoin the WTA Tour this summer, Henin insists her own retirement is permanent.

“I think not everyone can make this step, and maybe [they] want to be back because they don't know what to do,” she said. “You have to discover who you are and to build another life.”

Picking Jo-Willy at the All-England?

Tsonga The adoring French spectators aren’t the only ones enjoying the unique brand of tennis exhibited by the acrobatic and charistmatic Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Argentine Juan Monaco in four sets today and then rejoiced by going for a Guga-esque celebratory sprawl on the clay of Court Suzanne Lenglen. Christopher Clarey, the esteemed sports writer for the International Herald Tribune (and a contributing editor at TENNIS magazine), says he likes Tsonga’s chances at Wimbledon this year.

The 24-year-old Frenchman, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 6 in January, has won two hard-court titles this season. A finalist at the 2008 Australian Open, Tsonga lost in the first round in his only previous appearance at Roland Garros, in 2005. He’ll face Belgium’s Christophe Rochus in the third round and could meet No. 4 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.


33 Comments

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Posted by Or May 28, 2009 at 06:09 PM

Pregnancy becomes Mirka, and I like the shade of brown in her hair.

I forgot Tsonga should meet Djoko, should be a cracker of a match. I totally expect him to get by Rochus.

A well playing Tsonga then Del Potro? Nole got his work cut out for him.

Posted by Codge May 28, 2009 at 06:54 PM

Baby will definitely change the order of things, but they'll figure it out (we all do) ;=)

Is the tennis press genuinely interested in all the small details of the when and how? Bit odd.

Mirka will have to hand over those press responsibilities, maybe that will be the biggest change as far as access for the press.

And yes, I agree Mirka looks great!

Posted by Nancy J May 28, 2009 at 08:30 PM

No way will Roger be doing those 3AM feedings! Andre Agassi admits that he left that to his wife - a legend herself -- who understood and supported what a high performance athlete needed. Grafassi successfully managed a family on the road (again, much to the organization of Graf), and surely Mirka will do the same for Roger.

I'm glad that Justine is content in retirement. She's moved on, time for her fans to cheer her post tennis life too.

Tsonga to take Wimbledon! Gosh, that would be fun! I'm not putting my money on it, but I sure would love that outcome.

Posted by Kym May 28, 2009 at 10:15 PM

The fact Federer married his long time girl friend shows that
he is a better man than Pistol, doesn't it? He did not dump his
woman when is bank account and fame get bigger, did he? And the better man will be the better tennis player! He will get 2 more
grand slams to get to 15 grand slams. One more than you Pistol:
you morally challenged being!

Posted by Vie May 29, 2009 at 01:17 AM

"I'll be as professional as ever"..... Was wondering today if he gets accomodations on his match schedules much more than other players, whether by request or not.

Posted by Blake May 29, 2009 at 02:24 AM

Meh... sorry guys but pregnancy does not 'become' Mirka. Just like all those sugary treats in the last few years hadn't 'become' her then, either.

If your sole role in life is to hobble around and support the highest earning tennis player ever, couldn't you at least make _one_ minor concession and keep yourself in-freaking-shape?!?!

Posted by mpiktas May 29, 2009 at 02:55 AM

I sincerely hope, that Roger will manage, after the birth of the baby. But from my personal experience, you cannot even imagine, how this event changes your life. But I suspect that Roger will smoothly change his talk from "I think I will manage fine" to "I had no idea, that this much can change" :)

Posted by Markic May 29, 2009 at 05:03 AM

Is Juju suggesting Kim's only coming back because she "doesn't know what else to do"? Ouch!

Posted by CherryNYC May 29, 2009 at 09:53 AM

Fed's in for quite a shock, I'd say. Mr. Cherry and I used to say we would do everything the same as always, even after Little Cherry arrived. Ha! But you can adjust quickly -- I'm sure they will, too. And I'm sure I'm going straight to hell for this, but Mirka looks huge!

Posted by AWDean May 30, 2009 at 07:54 AM

You have to respect Justine Henin's decision - reaching the top of her field and moving on to new challenges, passing on all the money she would earn if she continued to play. I can only think of a few athletes who retired at the top of their game for non-injury related reasons (which would disqualify, say, Sandy Koufax) - Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, Jackie Stewart. I'm sure there are more, but not many. Anyway, Justine's fans can still find her at her website (http://www.justine-henin.be/), which has info on her foundation, and Great Friends Greetings (http://www.greatfriendsgreetings.com), a cool personalized gift site.

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Posted by sohogirl May 31, 2009 at 02:58 PM

She looks GREAT pregnant! I'm happy for them, the birth of their first child will be a blessing! I'm sure they will be able to juggle new baby and the tour!

Posted by Lark Logan June 01, 2009 at 12:58 AM

Mirka looks beautiful. Pregnancy becomes her. Things will certainly change once the baby arrives, but no doubt Roger will put it all in perspective.

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