Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Au Revoir, Justine
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Au Revoir, Justine 05/14/2008 - 10:52 AM


As most of you already know, Justine Henin has announced that she is retiring from tennis. I'll write a full post on this later, but for now that's the breaking news. For those of you who enjoy National Public Radio, I'm going on air with them at 11:15 a.m. to do a brief interview on this development. It's a sad day for tennis, and also for one of our junior Elders, Samantha Elin, whose willingness to defend Justine knew no bounds.

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Posted by frances 05/14/2008 at 12:32 PM

This is complete bull ____. She's losing and she can't deal with it. Look how long it took Venus and Serena to rebound from their crises (murdered sister, devastating injuries). But they hung in there. Henin has been through a lot, yes. But I just don't admire her. She has a really flawed character. When is the return date, Justine?

Posted by temes 05/14/2008 at 12:32 PM

Thanks for the quotes crazyone...Serena, such class! lol

It's very sad and very weird and I hope Justine fans won't totally bash the womens tennis without Justine and find new players to enjoy as well.

Posted by frances 05/14/2008 at 12:33 PM

This reminds me of the Jim Courier "retirement" announcement. After reaching number 1, he started getting beat and couldn't figure it out. He held a press conference and retired in anger.

Posted by 05/14/2008 at 12:35 PM

She's still ranked World #1, has won 7 career Grand Slams (4 French Opens, 2 US Opens, 1 Australian, 0 Wimbledons), including the last 3 French Opens in a row. She's the 1st ever CURRENT WORLD #1 to retire from professional tennis, and only the 5th current top 5 player. The other 4 were Court in 1977, Evert in 89, Graf in 99, and Clijsters in 2007 (last year). That is truly stunning news and elite company.
Graf, Evert and Court combined for like 60 singles career Grand Slams. Clijsters won 1, but should've won many more. She was #1 for a while too, and won many titles.
Justine was 493-107 with 41 singles titles (better than .800 winning percentage for her entire career, just 7 wins shy of 500 WTA Tour wins in her singles career).
She was one of the best players ever. This retirement is stunning and very sad, upsetting and disturbing news for the entire tennis world. I am personally shocked at this sudden news, especially since she recently said numerous times that she wants to play at least a few more years, and win Wimbledon. Now she quit before she had that chance. She was a great player and fun and exciting to watch. She was dominant just 6 months ago. I am sad and stunned by Justine's news. She could've just played the French Open in 2 weeks, and if she didn't win it, then taken off until the Olympics and finish the year, see her results, then make a decision after the year, not now in May. What's up, does she now have a major chronic injury that won't ever heal completely? She was a proud champion. At least she's leaving at the very top. #1 is the best. She was still the best and just 25.

When Roger retires, I will feel even worse, but I'm sure he will be in major decline by then and at least be 30-32 years old, maybe 35.
Justine was 25 and in her prime. It makes no sense to me. I'm sad and stunned for her, her many fans, and the entire tennis world.

Au Revoir, Justine. Everyone will miss you and your great game forever. The French Open will now be tainted because of her dominance there, as will the new world rankings starting next week. It was a great 9 years Justine. You will be surely missed. Tennis will never be the same again, and even worse when Roger eventually retires.

Posted by TennisEsq 05/14/2008 at 12:35 PM

Yes, thanks for the quotes crazyone.

frances, a little compassion please.

Posted by salverde 05/14/2008 at 12:36 PM

I think Justine made a perfect decision to retire immediately. With her physical problems and lack of motivation to win, as evidenced in her games since the start of 2008, it seems it would not be possible for her to win the French Open and Wimbledon thus further tarnishing her tennis greatness with terrible losses at major events.

Posted by avid sports fan 05/14/2008 at 12:36 PM

why why why? My jaws just dropped when I saw this. waoh! so much for all the tennis story lines this year. This is really sad but I am happy for her that she is happy with her decision and is not regretting it in anyway. I do wish Justin all the very best in her future endeavors.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/14/2008 at 12:37 PM

There are no words that can say how very sad I feel. For me, tennis is over, I'll never feel that excitement again. I'll never watch another match.There is something wrong that she doesn't want to say. I will never say goodbye because I refuse to believe this is the end and that in one day all the beauty can leave tennis. She will change her mind, I just know it. Go Justine, world's #1!

Posted by Sam (in black today) 05/14/2008 at 12:38 PM

frances: Was wondering when you'd chime in ...

Posted by nora 05/14/2008 at 12:38 PM

Just wild guesses, but I imagine her reasons being a mixture of pride (wanting to go out at #1), impulsiveness (the same quality that made her quit in the Australian, I think), and exhaustion at the strain of making a body that small outperform the limitations of its size. I have always imagined that must be a huge -- almost unimaginable -- strain.

A huge shock, but not inconsistent with her other behavior, like skipping a major after announcing her breakup with her husband.

Well, her legacy is secure, and she was a great champion.

I do think that someone's point about money is accurate -- the new retirements are enabled to a great extent by the bigger earnings.

Posted by sally 05/14/2008 at 12:38 PM

geez, rog, way to rub it in that she hasn't won wimbledon.

Posted by matt 05/14/2008 at 12:38 PM

I was hoping that she was just throwing some sort of hissy fit about her slump by retiring, that way I could envision her coming back sooner. But reading the comments by others above, the consensus seems to be that there is some secret real reason for her retirement that she isn't mentioning, which I find to be a lot more depressing. I don't want this to be a "fake retirement" not a real one LOL

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/14/2008 at 12:39 PM

Mark my words, for all of you who are refering to her in the past tennis,you're very wrong, she'll be back.

Posted by Grant 05/14/2008 at 12:40 PM

I imagine that after dedicating twenty years of your life to something you could get the feeling that it's time to do something else. Of course, having never done so, I wouldn't really know.

I will miss watching her play, however.

Posted by matt 05/14/2008 at 12:41 PM

Whoops, I meant I want it to be a "fake retirement". I'm so shocked and upset I can't even comment correctly. I feel the same sort of sadness I felt when Steffi Graf retired.

Posted by Kenny 05/14/2008 at 12:47 PM

I am absolutley stunned that Justine has decided to retire. Not a very big fan of hers but I support her decisions and she knows what is best for her. Best wishes to you Justine!

Posted by bcSlice 05/14/2008 at 12:48 PM

Say what you will about Justine, she had a beautiful game.

However, I'm with a few of you on the odd nature of the retirement. Either, as some here have conjectured, she knew she wouldn't be able to pass an impending drug test or she simply didn't want to play at anything less than her best.

She'll always be a misunderstood champion: either because she was simply closed off and didn't want to to be seen playing in anything less than her prime or because she was a cheater.

I guess we'll never know.

Posted by miluda 05/14/2008 at 12:50 PM

I think I just lost interest in women's tennis. I so wanted to see her play Wimbledon this year :(

Posted by temes 05/14/2008 at 12:51 PM

I do think it's wrong to make unjustified *speculations* about failed drugs tests...

Posted by M 05/14/2008 at 12:53 PM

The women's game is now dead to me, her beautiful classic game was the only one worth watching anymore amidst a throng of boring one dimensional 2 handed ball bashing grunting/shrieking clones.

Posted by Tosin 05/14/2008 at 12:54 PM

You know how some people live together, THEN have a wedding?
I hope Justine feels free to stage a farewell tour someday.

Hugs to her biggest fans.

Posted by dw 05/14/2008 at 12:54 PM

bcSlice, if she is retiring because of drug test then her named would be removed from WTA rankings and Sharapova would be default no.1, ie, total and complete retirement. If she is retiring because of other reasons then I think she'll let her name on the rankings list a little longer.

Posted by sRod 05/14/2008 at 12:56 PM

I still can't believe this.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/14/2008 at 12:59 PM

bCslice, how dare you come in here and make accusations about drugs, you don't know what you're talking about. You have NO proof, so don't speculate. Everyone thanks for the nice words, but like I said she will change her mind. She'll be back in a couple month after a short rest.

Posted by ginger 05/14/2008 at 01:00 PM

I just found out and am shocked and saddened by this. She plays so beautifully and to watch her play was such a treat and so different from the mindless hitting and grunting from the baseline... I can certainly understand why a proud champion wants to go out on top BUT for purely selfish reasons, I hope she comes back

Posted by 05/14/2008 at 01:01 PM

What a great winner and champion Justine is and hopefully she'll return eventually. She is still on top and just 25. It's sad and shocking for the entire tennis world. She must have her own good reasons, but she never indicated she was considering this decision once recently, and then today, she makes it. Good luck in yor future and with your personal and professinal life. Hopefully, at just 25, you live a great and prosperous long life. You're still a young adult, and I hope you're happy with your career decision, as surprising and sad as it is for every tennis fan. Be happy and healthy. Justine. Good Luck in the future with your long life!
You are and always will be a great player and champion. Tennis is not your life. Good Luck and have no regrets!

Posted by matt 05/14/2008 at 01:03 PM

I have to admit that after this and until Justine comes back, I'll definitely be more interested in men's tennis than women's. Women's tennis will have such an unbearable void now.

Posted by temes 05/14/2008 at 01:04 PM

"mindless hitting and grunting from the baseline"

This is such a cliche seriously...

Posted by dw 05/14/2008 at 01:06 PM

[I]f you have any opinions please express them in an intelligent manner. No reason to call her names. Have some respect for her accomplishments and talent.

Posted by Andrew Miller 05/14/2008 at 01:09 PM

I re-read her press conference from April 1, 2008 from the Miami tournament.

J. Wertheim had mentioned at Sports Illustrated, that he was shocked at that time, of Henin speaking about a lack of courage making a negative difference in her ability to compete during that particular match.

What comes from that press conference (good job Master Wertheim!) is an overwhelming sense of fatigue. In other words, Henin looked at where she was at (poor decision making during the course of a match; an inability to "make shots" she has always made during her career - that's physical fatigue, an inability to execute her normal repetoire and at least make things difficult for an opponent; mental fatigue - knowing what it "takes" to get into the rare form that is Henin at her best, and knowing it would be quite a fight) and decided, with plenty of money at home in Monte Carlo, that it's time.

I think it's clear that Henin calls the shots here. This doesnt look like some deal between the WTA and Henin (I'll stay quiet, but you must quit, kind of thing) - it looks like someone with a hell of a one handed backhand, and a heck of a forehand, let alone a serve as powerful as it can be for her pint size, deciding to rip another backhand down the line.

The themes of Justine's life - of surprising people - the announcement is in keeping. I wouldnt call anything about Henin normal, from the style of her game (I dont see many games like it out there, it is Federer's game translated to the WTA) to the competitiveness (see the default during the Aussie Open) to other decisions she's made, to reconcile with her family etc, or justify living in Monte Carlo. Justine busts the odds.

I think a lot of it is the competitiveness (the fire is gone). She knows what it would take to come back stronger than ever, and she doesnt want to embarass herself. And she sounds ready to step away - it's not like Michael Jordan's 99.9 percent sure he'll never return to the game, only to return twice and contemplate another return, even if the body was unwilling.

I wouldnt know if there's some other mysterious reason (illness, doping, pregnancy?) I dont think so, but what would I know. Justine has the elements of an enigma, but the details seem like they are staring fans in the face. There's a definitive nature to the trends in women's tennis and the nature of the press conference.

It's over.

Hopefully some young ladies have decided the one hander could fit their personalities and find a place in the WTA's future.

Posted by 05/14/2008 at 01:10 PM

Typical Justine...quits in the Aussie Open final when she knew she'd lose. And then when her career had a slight bump, she decides to quit. While she may have amassed 7 Grand Slam Singles titles, her lack of fight and grit will bar her from being considered a true champion.

Posted by 05/14/2008 at 01:10 PM

hugs to samantha, and all henin fans. :(

never was much of a henin fan, but to hear about her retirement is just depressing. i practically fell off my chair when i heard about it. i just wish her all the best. she was a gift to tennis and to all tennis fans.

Posted by 05/14/2008 at 01:11 PM

Typical Justine...quits in the Aussie Open final when she knew she'd lose. And then when her career had a slight bump, she decides to quit. While she may have amassed 7 Grand Slam Singles titles, her lack of fight and grit will bar her from being considered a true champion.

Posted by omar 05/14/2008 at 01:11 PM

Hurray for Justine. We always here athletes say, "as soon as I don't feel that same love and drive to be the best, then it's time to walk away."

But invariably, what happens? The player keeps playing, anyway. they don't have the same drive, passion, and can't play at the same level, but they keep going. John McEnroe comes to mind.

Special athletes like Justine, Barry Sanders, Borg, they are the exceptions. They are all or nothing type of athletes. When their inner drive starts to dwindle, they are essentially done.

Why should Justine keep playing another 5 years just to win more Grand Slams when she doens't feel the passion anymore?

Borg could have played 5 more years and put the Grand Slam record out of reach, but for what? Sanders could have broken the rushing record, but what would it have meant? Its like being married to a woman you don't love anymore.

What's the point?

Justine has emotional integrity. She is being true to herself. What made her great is also what allows her to make this decision.

Posted by frances 05/14/2008 at 01:13 PM

bcSlice -- when henin grew those pecs a few years ago I always thought HGH or something. Everyone knows she's not above cheating. Her character is so flawed. I think I'll always have those thoughts in my mind. Always.

The hand.

The AO final quit.

The injury timeouts.

Her crass coach.

I'm only a tennis fan and have no proof, but I'm free to think what I want -- okay Henin fans. Okay.

Posted by † Justice 05/14/2008 at 01:16 PM

My thanks to Justine for all the great memories. Her beautiful style, dogged determination, frailty, and humanity. I hope she finds what she's looking for.

Posted by creig bryan GBT 05/14/2008 at 01:16 PM


Drugs, disease, fear, pregnancy, family, pride, timing, psyche?

You might as well be panning for gold in New Jersey.

As I said before (during the Oz fiasco), you cannot even begin to guess what her reasoning was, is or will be. You must accept her words, her meanings, her desire for privacy, as they are, at face value. It is what it is--there can be no real conspiracy of one.

Give her the benefit of the doubt, please! She's earned it.

Samantha: Commiserations to you, big time. Your heart is broken, I'm sure. Justine is a champion--the records declare it. She leaves the games as (your crowning achievement) The Queen. World's #1.

Samantha: Keep Smiling

Posted by TMF Rules 05/14/2008 at 01:16 PM

I have nothing much to add to this discussion other than to say to Samantha, AliC, Bob and all the rest of the Justine fans, I feel your pain and I sympathize with you. I think Justine has done what she considers what is best for her. I do not think a lot of us realise just how demanding it is to be a professional tennis player. Not only do you have to get up every day with the conviction in your game, but you also have to go out there and listen to all the negative stuff that is being said about you and your game etc. This is perhaps why Serena took what she called a “mental break” from the game. A chance to rest, recuperate, put on some weight, get into relationships, do what makes you happy. A lot of us do not realise that these women and men and women have been raised from birth to play tennis. This is all they know and when it stops working for them, then they have to start thinking, what next. I believe that in the future you are going to find that a lot of female professional tennis players are going to start choosing to have both: a career and family. You do need that balance in your life, no matter how hectic and distraught you might feel. Trophies, accolades from your peers, and money are just a part of life. The things that matter in life are family, God, a spiritual well being and the most wonderful of all the fact that you are able to stop and smell the roses, that is, looking after the little things in life. Justine, as we say in Jamaica – walk good my friend and all the best on your travels.

Posted by temes 05/14/2008 at 01:17 PM

But frances, is this really the time to bring those things up? What about the positives? Obviously that is what was meant with compassion. You just enjoy pissing people off and seeking attention that way. =)

Posted by Codge 05/14/2008 at 01:17 PM

I wish her well.
Iwas a huge supporter the first half of her stellar career.
She served a big inspiration for smaller statured players during the big babe tennis period.
Pete- very kind of you to mention Samantha, by far JH biggest KAD.
Go Justine!

Posted by XLNC 05/14/2008 at 01:19 PM


Posted by dean 05/14/2008 at 01:20 PM


Posted by WORDHOOD 05/14/2008 at 01:22 PM

A sad development, certainly. But Pete (and all) doesn't Justine Henin's retirement seem to solidify something about this generation?—Mauresmo wins two grand slams and can barely compile a dozen wins after; Clijsters retires ranked number four in the world; Venus and Serena Williams spent swaths of time away from the game to pursue 'other interests.'

What journeymen Graf and Navratilova seem, Evert, Sanchez-Vicario, even Gabriela Sabatini. What would Monica Seles have given to CHOOSE when to retire? This generation will always be defined by its seeming flippancy. The passion for the game seems to have a short shelf-life these days in the WTA.

Posted by frances 05/14/2008 at 01:23 PM

Temes, Justine Henin's earned no show of compassion. At least from me. Besides she is a millionaire a few times over. She's 25. She can care less what I think.

Posted by Bob 05/14/2008 at 01:23 PM

I still can't believe I won't ever see Justine play tennis again. I'm so glad that I've taped nearly all of her matches in the past years.

Obviously she has some serious medical issues. That she's not near 100% has been pretty evident this year, especially in final sets, where she wilted.

I can understand her reasoning. She's tried to rest, but it hasn't helped. She knows she can't stand up to 7 matches at RG, then the exhausting run through Wimbledon. She was tired last year at Wimbledon and was going to skip Eastbourne this year, to rest. She's always been fragile when it comes to hear health.

As it is, she retires far ahead as #1, and as defending FO and USO champion. Obviously she knows that she's not healthy enough to compete for those titles. Her play has been strange all year.

I wouldn't be totally surprised to see her play in the Olympics, to defend her gold medal, but unless she becomes totally healthy again, I don't think she'll play on the WTA tour. She's so good that she could win the gold medal. She did it in 2004, right in the middle of her absence because of that virus. She's not healthy though. That's been apparent all year. Even at the AO she was losing serve quite often in early rounds.

It's sad to see a player retire at 25, especially her. I'd never imagined I'd see a woman who could play tennis like she did, and enjoyed watching her even more than Federer. She was unique in the women's game, in all of history. She gave me more pleasure than I can begin to measure. I never missed a chance to watch her play tennis.

It was apparent this year that she wasn't enjoying herself out there. At some point she'll probably discuss it. I only know that she was a brilliant star which flashed across the tennis sky for more than six years, with the kind of shotmaking which we've never seen before, and will never see again.

I loved watching her play so much that I don't even care who wins Rome, or RG, or Wimbledon. She was it, for me. When Steffi retired, I felt like that, but not as much, since Steffi was old, and her time was at hand. Justine is only 25, and could have dominated for another 2-3 years. That's about it though. I knew she was in the last few years of her career, but never imagined it would end now.

She's had several months to try to recover from whatever was bothering her though, and that hasn't happened, and she's in the best position to make that decision. Just give me one more event, Justine. Let me watch you win the Olympics.

Posted by temes 05/14/2008 at 01:25 PM

frances, I meant the fans(of Justine).

Posted by alvin hippolyte 05/14/2008 at 01:26 PM

Great tennis player. Graceless person. That inadmission of the hand signal against Serena, forever tarnishes.

Posted by Brian 05/14/2008 at 01:26 PM

The idea that Henin will return after a brief hiatus is a bold assumption. While speculations about her health will undoubtedly be mentioned, it seems that her retirement has a much more striking emotional aspect than anything else. She is obviously an extremely accomplished tennis player and has resolved her personal problems off the court. What more is there for Justine to accomplish?

Henin has always been an extremely private person and the media has, at times, given her a lot of grief for wanting to live a normal and subdued existence outside of tennis, much unlike her counterparts. Henin, however, doesn't seem like the kind of person who would make such a rash decision. Her retirement seems calculated, well-thought out, and simply put - right (at least for her).

As a fan of Justine, I feel disheartened. She was an incredible player and a joy to watch. But to prematurely proclaim the inevitability of her return is to be ignorant of the reasons for her retirement in the first place and is slightly disrespectful to the brilliant legacy she's leaving behind.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 05/14/2008 at 01:27 PM

While we rightly mourn for the women's game... hail, all of tennis... with Justine's announcement, I will choose to celebrate her immense competitive spirit, prodigious talent, and unwritten future. I hope that she is able to live out whatever other dream she may have in store. She deserves all the best.

Posted by matt 05/14/2008 at 01:30 PM

Now I'm thinking Chris Evert should have written that public lecture to Justine, instead of Serena LOL. I know that's sort of an inappropriate joke, but it takes a bit of my sadness away over what has been lost today.

Posted by bcSlice 05/14/2008 at 01:30 PM

With all due respect to Samantha, I'm not the first to mention the doping accusations with respect to Henin (or the Williams sisters, etc.). Extended absences for "viruses" are always cause for speculation. And just like me, Samantha, you have no proof that she hasn't been doping.

My point was NOT to accuse Henin of doping but to hit on the point that she will always be misunderstood. That has always been her choice. Others have mentioned the incident with Serena at the French, the Australian final against Mauresmo, etc. I think there are far more good moments for her than bad. I am no Justine hater.

The major point, however, is that any points Henin gained over the last year with her more open and outward persona have really been lost with this odd retirement. And that's just what it is - odd.

Posted by Samantha Elin 05/14/2008 @ 12:59 PM

bCslice, how dare you come in here and make accusations about drugs, you don't know what you're talking about. You have NO proof, so don't speculate. Everyone thanks for the nice words, but like I said she will change her mind. She'll be back in a couple month after a short rest.

Posted by frances 05/14/2008 at 01:32 PM

WORDHOOD, I disagree. I see this more as the generation who declared independence and the desire to have a life. Venus and Serena are terrific role models. As is Sharapova and the others who have outside interests. The Capriati, Seles era where teens and pre-teens were the breadwinners for their families is not one that should be repeated. Look at the wreckage -- Hingis, Mirjana Lucic, even as far back as Austin and Jaegger. As far as we know, none of the top girls now have any issues with drugs, depression, rebellion etc. -- which cannot be said of the group directly proceeding them. I love the Williams family. Some people can't stand them and that's a perogative people have. But you can't take away their intelligence, their achievements and their pride and their trouble free lives. Look at Britney. Look at Lohan. Sharapova, Ivanovic, Venus and Serena are girls to be admired. They chose to do things differently than Capriati, etc. and they've turned out to be fine young women. Yes they have.

Posted by Christopher 05/14/2008 at 01:33 PM

Omar, I think you slightly misrepresent Borg's decision. He DID want to keep playing, but with a reduced schedule. He did not, however, want to be forced to qualify for the French Open. And let's not forget the very sad comeback attempts. It wasn't the all or nothing type of situation you make it out to be.

I don't think it's bad that McEnroe kept playing well past his prime. Sure, he never reached the same heights, but he (and Connors) played some spectacular matches late in their careers.

Most importantly, some players just love playing, even if they can't do so as well as they used to. There's no shame in this. When Safin was recently asked why he doesn't just retire given his recent poor results, he said something to the effect of "I have a lot of money and can do whatever I want to. I like playing tennis so I'm going to keep doing that." Good for him.

I hate to see Justine leave like this. I personally don't think this is a motivation issue per se, but rather health and maybe some other personal things going on. The world of tennis will be a poorer place without her.

Posted by Sahadev 05/14/2008 at 01:35 PM

Goodbye woman's tennis

Posted by Tom in Smalltown 05/14/2008 at 01:36 PM

I tell the muscley teens who play tennis in our small community to find You Tube videos of Justine to see that power doesn't necessarily come from pure muscular strength. Who else will personify power in purity of stroke? Who else can I tell them to watch in the next tournament?

Well wishes to Justine.

Posted by frances 05/14/2008 at 01:36 PM

...and look at Navratilova. She was still trying to play up until two years ago! That's just ridiculous. I admire her -- but also pitied her, because she so obviously had nothing else. Entering her '50's and she was still trying to live in her '20's. How many of us believe we will be seeing Venus, Serena, Sharapova or Jankovic still trying to play at that age. They have so much else going on. And I think that's great.

Posted by oneleft 05/14/2008 at 01:37 PM

Over at ESPN they have this
"Her agent, Ken Meyerson, told's Bonnie D. Ford that Henin called him Sunday evening and, in what he described as a "warm" conversation, said, "I've won everything I need to win, I have more money than I can use in three lifetimes, and I don't have the will to play one day more.""

Pretty much sums it up no?

There are pro's that quit everyday, whether ranked 1000th or 1. Some out of frustration, some because the fire is gone. There's nothing wrong with accepting that and moving on. Some folks seem to think they owe more because they're rich and young. I respectfully disagree. If Chang wants to play an extra 3 or 4 years for the fun of it, great. If Justine wants to quit and move on, great.

Posted by GS 05/14/2008 at 01:39 PM

This is beyond depressing! With Mauresmo seemingly on her way out and now this, who's left to play beautiful, versatile tennis with finesse? All we have are the Bolletieri-moulded bashers who are SO SO boring! I think I'll just go back to bed now!

I wish her well and thank her for the hours of elegant tennis she gave us.

Posted by Brian 05/14/2008 at 01:39 PM

bCslice, why do you consider Henin's retirement as somehow subtracting from the moral integrity and perspective she's gained over the last year? She has overcome personal issues and reconnected with her previously estranged family. Her retirement in no way questions the kind of character and resolve she has developed over the years. You are blatantly attempting to tarnish her reputation with unfounded accusations at a time that is obviously difficult for Henin.

Who are you, a person with absolutely no intimate insight or information into Henin's personal life, to make such an unjustified statement? It is almost laughable if it weren't so insulting. Her retirement and her reasons for doing so must be taken at face value.

She has deserved at least that much respect.

Posted by Bob 05/14/2008 at 01:39 PM

For the rest of your life: GO JUSTINE!

Posted by dw 05/14/2008 at 01:39 PM

I think in few years we'll see Nadal physically spent and quitting tennis.

Posted by Bob 05/14/2008 at 01:43 PM

There is some new stuff on her site, so obviously she knew she was going to retire.

Posted by sally 05/14/2008 at 01:47 PM

serena-never giving any credit to her opponent-great role model.

Posted by moe276 05/14/2008 at 01:50 PM

To be honest i wasn't her biggest fan.. But i guess we don't appreciate something until we lose it. I wish her the best and maybe now she can have some well deserved time with her family.

Posted by Bob 05/14/2008 at 01:53 PM

I've posted several times before about how the women's game might be too hard on female bodies, as it's evolved. Justine and Kim might be examples of that. Venus and Serena are getting old. It will be interesting to see if they can stay healthy in the next couple of years. I knew Amelie was finished after the FO last year. The big serves of Lindsay, Serena, and Venus might keep them competitive, but age is always a problem. Federer isn't quite the player he was a few years ago, and he'll be 27 this year. Justine played such a physical game, lacking the free service points the giants have, that I always wondered how long she'd last. It should be an interesting year, as the run of Safina showed in Berlin, but "interesting" is a relative term, for me. My interest in women's tennis just evaporated to a large extent.

Posted by zolarafa 05/14/2008 at 01:53 PM

Accusing a champion of doping? on her retirememt day?
Wishing Nadal retirement in a few years for an ailing body?

Go see a therapist! you need help!

Posted by Lydia 05/14/2008 at 01:55 PM

As much as she has been the nemesis of all my favorites and a thorn in the side of American tennis, I am saddened by this news. I guess the toll was too much. We all burn out and I guess it's better to go out like this. Perhaps the pressure to win at RG would have been too much.
Too bad.

Posted by shocked fan 05/14/2008 at 01:55 PM

this is really sad news...i loved watching women's tennis because of justine ...she added alot to the game and she is such a great embassador so this is really shocking for me ...i'm a die hard henin fan and i thought all that was rumors ...i loved everything about her...i'm a petite girl and watching what she could do to taller and stronger players really inspired me...but it's her decision as paniful as this is for me,i'm sure she gave it alot of thought and if that's what she wants then i respect that and i wish her the best of luck in everything.
my dear justine you'll remain a great player ,a great embassador of the game and such a great, strong,inspiring figure that deserves respect
goodbye :(

Posted by misael 05/14/2008 at 01:55 PM

Frances Navratilova won 14 doubles and mixed doubles after the age of 45 and that includeing 3 slams, she's not sad, she's a great example that if you're older ,you still can do anything. My aunt who turned 60 in Apirl,Starting playing Tennis at 55 because of Martina, she is now a total Tennis junkie,If she did it at 55 ,I'am sure she's not the only one, so leave Martina alone.

Posted by frances 05/14/2008 at 01:56 PM

Zolarafa, these atheletes are gods or goddesses owed blind worship and unflagging support. Stop it.

Posted by 05/14/2008 at 01:57 PM

..I meant to say, Zolarafa that they are NOT gods or goddesses. We owe them nothing.

Posted by Lydia 05/14/2008 at 01:57 PM

By the way, I have no doubt Serena's saddened by this as well. No great champion wants to see their best rival leave the game. The tide of tennis is changing and I haven't the slightest idea where it's going but tennis seems to run on a ten year cycle and for the women, this is it.
Hi Pete, long time no post but still read it everyday....

Posted by 05/14/2008 at 01:58 PM

Bob: 2I've posted several times before about how the women's game might be too hard on female bodies"

Yeah, right. Thank God male players never get injured or have to retire because of that.

Posted by Sara 05/14/2008 at 02:00 PM

she'll be back.. there are too many inspiring players out there. i give her 2 years tops!! and im waiting..

Posted by zolarafa 05/14/2008 at 02:00 PM

wishing someone to retire for body failure or accusing someone without a proof is not healthy. Has nothing to do with worshipping.

Posted by frances 05/14/2008 at 02:01 PM

Misael, your aunt STARTED playing at 55. STARTED. She embarked on a new fun adventure for herself. Navratilova had no life outside of tennis, which was became obvious when she would get, and continues to get overheated when talking about Serena and Venus not being single-minded about their life choices. You must be careful when you pass judgement -- because your judgements reveal your own insecurities. Navratilova has been very judgemental of the path the Williams sisters are taking, thus leaving herself open to be judged as well. Not a good look Martina. If she had anything else going on, she would have hung up that racket.

Posted by TennisEsq 05/14/2008 at 02:02 PM

"serena-never giving any credit to her opponent-great role model."

Never? Sally, you obviously know nothing about Serena. Besides, this is about Justine. But I know it's hard not to involve Serena (or Venus) in the conversation.

Posted by sean m 05/14/2008 at 02:04 PM

i think two of the quotes cited above demarcate the player/fan experience and provide a deep perspective about the tribe and how we interact with our favorite players.

"it's time to breathe again" - justine

whatever we individually think about her (or anyone) as a player, henin earned her stripes. traveling around the globe with no family and pitting her diminutive frame against the physically largest crop of women professionals ever. i won't rehash the criticisms i have of her past. it's entirely improper at the moment and many of you above have already trangressed this decency. but this woman, not this tennis player, not this champion, this woman, if she wants to breathe, then none of us are to ask any more of her. we can wish her the best and hope that her tennis after-life steers very clear of the farce that borg's became (though she gives no indications of having the same in her future). we can even hope for a return to play. but at the very least, as fellow human beings, we should applaud the accomplishments and bid her the fondest adieu for her sacrifices. no matter what you think of her character, those sacrifices are undeniable.

"there's not enough time" - serena

though she said it meaning that she could never sum up justine's career, this really speaks for all of us and our relationship to all our favorite players, artists, actors, and anyone that inspires us and donates their personal beauty to the world. perhaps particularly in sports where careers rarely last beyond 30. will we ever see enough of our favorite players? does the sampras/federer tour provide a sufficient answer? no, we will always want more because of the way these athletes touch us and communicate to our souls without words. justine's lyrical backhand, fed's perfect quiet on all strokes, nadal's "vamos!", mcenroe's otherwordly touch, and the list could go on and on. these things sing inside us as fans. they elevate contest to sport and a game to art.

no, there is never enough time, but we all must breathe again.

Posted by TMF Rules 05/14/2008 at 02:05 PM

Venus and Serena's comments:
Venus: ""She was a great opponent. She always challenged herself to play her best tennis no matter what the circumstances."
Serena: "She was a great champion and she gave me a world of trouble, so I hope the best for her. Gosh, what can you say about such a champion? I don't think we have enough time."

Posted by frances 05/14/2008 at 02:05 PM

Zolara, I never wish anyone to retire because of "body failure." You have my posts mixed up with someonelse's. I'm quite healthy too, mentally and physically. Well, the mental part may need some tuning... Nonetheless, I've always had my suspicions about Henin. And they haven't gone away. That said, I've never been one to get all the hullabullo over juicing. I mean I could take all the HGH or juice I want, I'll never have her backhand.

Posted by dw 05/14/2008 at 02:06 PM

zolarafa, with schedule and playing styles injuries are taking toll on players' bodies. You can only recover so many times from same injury.
And I will express my opinion and excuse me for not worshipping Henin even though I have a lot of respect for Henin. When a player retires we look at the entire career both good parts and bad. In Justine's case good outweighed not so good but this abrupt ending does leave many unanswered questions. Yes, she doesn't owe anyone any explanation but on tennis forums we are free to have discussions.

Posted by rudy3 05/14/2008 at 02:07 PM

Heidi began the comments thread with the word "gobsmacked".
Thats it, gobsmacked, as an American I never really got the full gist of that word...until today.

For the sake of woman's tennis, I hope for Justine this is a hiatus, and not a full blown retirement. But it does speak to the nature of the WTA. These girls have to be so good, so young. They are thrust into adult roles so early. it can't be surprising that at 25 a young woman feels she has nothing left to give.

Justine continues to be an enigma. I wish her the best.

Posted by Samantha 05/14/2008 at 02:07 PM

To Frances and the rest of the haters, what if you find out she has a serious illness, then will you be happy? You are sad.

Posted by Nichole 05/14/2008 at 02:08 PM

Great Poem Bob. Thank you for the beautiful words. I have been a Justine fan since before she won her first grand slam. I loved watching the two Belgium women playing each other or others. Justine is my favorite player and has one of the most well rounded games on the tour. For me, that is what makes her game beautiful. I will be sad now, and confused as to who will become my favorite female player. I hope an all-around player will emerge as a dominant player sooner than later. (I will not be holding my breath).

If there is something physically wrong with her, I hope she is able to overcome it. If something is emotionally lacking in the tennis area, I hope she finds new fulfilling happiness in whatever she endeavors.

Hugs to other Justine fans, and to Justine herself. Good luck in everything.

Posted by Christopher 05/14/2008 at 02:09 PM

"She was still trying to play up until two years ago! That's just ridiculous. I admire her -- but also pitied her, because she so obviously had nothing else. Entering her '50's and she was still trying to live in her '20's."

Frances, you PITY someone winning GS titles in her late 40's?!? Why do we have to assume that she "has nothing else" when maybe the reality is that she simply likes tennis more than anything else she does? Do we pity men who have played golf all their life and still do it in their 70's after they retire? What about math profs who aren't going to come up with any original papers after their 30's? Martina clearly loves playing competitive tennis and was able to do so successfully until a late age. Why the heck is pitiful in that?

Posted by adek 05/14/2008 at 02:12 PM

I will surely miss Justin Henin tremendously, but there comes a time when it is time to enjoy other things in life.
Maybe she is interested in settling down, starting a family. As I posted yesterday she also is aware of the power game now a days. Let the other big strong girls smack it out on court.
Kudos to somebody who realizes this.
She has always been smaller, and a little more fragile than some players. Better do it this way, than be withdrawing from events for a variety of illnesses like Davenport or something.
I see her possibly coming back again but don't hold your breath.
Good luck Justine!

Posted by Alexis 05/14/2008 at 02:17 PM

"Now I know how tennis fans must have felt when Borg walked away at age 25. Wow!"

It is similar. I think Borg's had a different feel. Borg had this incredible Rock Star aura about him. He was the "Ice Man" to McEnroe and Connors. Because there was no cable, internet or anything back then, his mystery was even greater. I think there was a bit of a crack in the armour when he lost the 1980 US final in five sets to McEnroe. It certainly solidified the rivalry after the epic Wimbledon final the same year. But when Borg lost the 1981 Wimbledon final, it seemed okay, almost like it "had to happen sometime". I think everyone truly believed that Borg would return the favor and win his first US Open. But losing the 1981 US Open final broke Borg, I think. He never recovered. He may not have officially retired that day, but everyone knew it. So, in a way, it was just as sudden.

Did Henin leave because she felt she could not be at the top anymore? Probably not completely, but if she didn't have the drive anymore, surely watching her ranking tumble would kill her. With Borg, it really felt like he left because of the McEnroe threat. I'm sure that was part of it, but I also think he was tired of the bubble he lived in.

Posted by Andrew 05/14/2008 at 02:18 PM

frances: as dw writes above, this is a tennis forum where we're free to have discussions.

Nonetheless, there's a social aspect to the discussions. No one's required or obliged to like any player, or pretend they do. But, in my book, aggressively voicing your suspicions about Henin on the day she retires is pretty painful to a lot of folks here. Kinda like talking loudly about someone's dating history on their wedding day during the reception.

Posted by zolarafa 05/14/2008 at 02:19 PM

I know. my post @ 1:53 pm was not directed to you at all.

yes, everybody's style is different. People said Roddick will blow his shoulder with that serve and he did not. They said Borg's body will fail and it did not. Many players other than Nadal get injured every year. look at Tsonga, Murray or even Fed and Djokovic. Still, I don't want to see any of them retire because of a failing body.It has nothing to do with worshipping someone or not.
that's why your prediction at 1:39 pm is very odd and brutal to me. I would not wish that for anybody.

Posted by Jerell 05/14/2008 at 02:21 PM

well, I was coming from party last night and was writing something about the NBA Playoffs when I saw the SportsCeneter, of all things, bottomline ticker show what we all know.

I have to say that this is another testament to the brilliance of Roger Federer yet again, and it is a MAJOR BLOW to the state of the WTA that Justine Henin has decided this. A myriad of people give Henin similiarities to him and pronounce her "the Roger Federer of the WTA Tour", and time and time again I say it is a smack to the face of how great Federer is. Day in, day out, even if this year isn't going particularlly well.

In response to Bob and others who speculate injuries, I don't buy that one bit. She's won two titles this year and in Berlin last week was physically fine from what most people say. I think mentally, those losses to both Sharapova and Serena really hurt her psyche, and made her really lack the confidence for her to not to not have someone take her title at Roland Garros by beating her. Instead of letting anyone try and take the tournamenet near and dear to her heart, she wouldn't alow that to happen except through her.

I will certainly right more on this later.

Posted by frances 05/14/2008 at 02:23 PM

Christopher, if she had anything else she wouldn't have been still playing on the tour. Navratilova, I feel did not get her due. She never got the endorsements. She was single-minded in being a pro-tennis player. Overly critical of those after her who thought differently. Yes she was still winning doubles. But Davenport, Clistjers, etc. can be competitive forever on the doubles circuit. How much you wanna bet they aren't playing in their 40's and 50's. I have a feeling they have a little something going on in their lives. Navratilova was a gay woman who came out when it wasn't safe too. That's some courage right there. But she paid a price. And personally, I think that really sucks. And, as I see it, tennis is what she held onto.

Posted by KG 05/14/2008 at 02:23 PM

Whaaaat? Uhm, ok can someone say speeeeechlesss??? Of all the unexpected news to drop, I did NOT see this coming. So no more watching Juju snag the French think I'm gonna faint in a sec for real. This is definitely sad.

Samantha I'm sending you mighty hugs. This must really hurt. Hearing this news is just making me dread when the Williams are gonna call it a day too. *sigh* Oh boy.

And to all those questioning Justine's commitment or moral integrity, I say get a grip. One of the finest players in the history of the game just unexpectedly quit and all you're interested in doing is slogging her? Oh please!!! Even if you wanted to, this is def not the time and the place.

Posted by Markic 05/14/2008 at 02:25 PM

Oh dear. Women's tennis is from now on going to be no more than a pantomime. Why wouldn't she retire? She's basically been at work for twenty years (if one were a banker or a lawyer, starting a high-pressure but very successful career in one's mid-twenties, retiring twenty years later would be viewed as ust right). Unlike most players, Wimbledon was never the biggie for her. I think, actually, she overachieved massively compared with what people's expectations were at the start: nice player, but too frail in mind and body. That's what people were still saying in 2002! I expect she's already won more than she ever thought possible.

Posted by Christopher 05/14/2008 at 02:25 PM

"The Capriati, Seles era where teens and pre-teens were the breadwinners for their families is not one that should be repeated. Look at the wreckage -- Hingis, Mirjana Lucic, even as far back as Austin and Jaegger. As far as we know, none of the top girls now have any issues with drugs, depression, rebellion"

What an odd comment, Frances. Austin, Jaegger, Hingis, and Seles hardly count as "wreckage." Austin and Jaegger both retired because of injuries and appear to have gone on to happy and fulfilling lives. Seles, last I checked, didn't get stabbed in the back because of a lack of interests outside of tennis. Capriati's level of "drugs, depression, rebellion" was very mild compared to most American teenagers, who would be dealing with about 1/1000 of the pressure she did. Other than Hingis possibly having done a drug that's about as rare among her economic and social peer group as bottled water, what disasters did she face? And do you really want to group these woman with Britney Spears??? If anything Serena is more of a celebrity fixture than these other women. I have huge respect for both Venus and Serena, both as players and as human beings, but that doesn't mean that other approaches to the game and life should be so casually dismissed.

Posted by frances 05/14/2008 at 02:27 PM

Jerrell, I agree.

This is the height of selfishness on Henin's part.

Serena's healthy and hungry. The cobwebs from the 2007 AO beat down she got from Serena appear to be mostly gone from SHarapova's head. And Henin sees the writing on the wall.

What a selfish woman.

Posted by zolarafa 05/14/2008 at 02:27 PM

Rafa's reaction: (from his Hamburg Presser)

Q: Were you surprised about the news about Justine Henin?

NADAL: Surely, surprised. But she knows more than anyone how she feels. We have to respect her decision and support her, I think. It's an important loss for the sport and for tennis because she was No. 1, one of the best players of the world in the last years. So, disappointing for us.

Posted by dw 05/14/2008 at 02:31 PM

zolarafa, I don't wish for them to retire. Actually, I wish Nadal a very long career. I don't think there is anything brutal about writing about one's observations. Seriously, some of the injuries are truly alarming. Tsonga is injured more often then not and J. Johanson just retired. Hewitt played his best tennis in his early 20s and nowadays he never seems fully recovered.
On positive note, not only did Justine make more money then former players in a fraction of time but she can also enjoy her youth away from tennis now.

Posted by temes 05/14/2008 at 02:34 PM

Frances, your comments make no damn sense. Martina Navratilova should be pitied? Justine Henins retirement is a selfish act? Past tennis players were all wrecks?

Posted by apollonian 05/14/2008 at 02:34 PM

We will miss her tennis.

We will not miss her personality.

That is all.

Posted by zolarafa 05/14/2008 at 02:35 PM

I don't know what your motivation was, but it did not feel good to read that. I can say the same thing about many players, but I won't, out of respect for their supporters here. Why predict the doom of a player when he is doing so well? And you say yourself that he is not the one with the worst injuries? Still can't understand!

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