Henin has no doubts about Ser­ena

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

LON­DON — Jus­tine Henin tipped her old ri­val Ser­ena Wil­liams to come back after her preg­nancy and reign supreme once again — say­ing what Ser­ena wants, she usu­ally gets.

Henin, who won seven Grand Slams, said Ser­ena’s ab­sence has opened the door for a new cham­pion to step up and seize this year’s Wim­ble­don crown.

But the 35-year-old Bel­gian, who re­tired in 2011 and two months ago had her sec­ond child, has no plans to make a come­back of her own and bat­tle with Ser­ena once more.

“We could have a lot of sur­prises with Ser­ena com­ing back after hav­ing a child. It cer­tainly won’t be easy. But when she wants some­thing, usu­ally she gets it,” Henin said on Tues­day.

“I’m very cu­ri­ous, I can’t wait to see that. I hope she’s go­ing to come back — she can do it, that’s for sure, and she’s per­haps the only one who could come back to chal­lenge for Grand Slam ti­tles and the No 1 spot in her mid-thir­ties.”

Henin had a decade of bat­tles with Ser­ena be­tween 2001 and 2010, with the Amer­i­can edg­ing their du­els 8-6.

The Bel­gian, who won four French, two US and one Aus­tralian Open ti­tles and reached the Wim­ble­don fi­nal twice, was back at the All Eng­land Club to re­ceive her In­ter­na­tional Ten­nis Hall of Fame ring after be­ing in­ducted into the ITHF in 2016.

Look­ing at the lineup for Thurs­day’s semi­fi­nals, she tipped Spain’s Gar­bine Mugu­ruza to go on and win her first Wim­ble­don ti­tle.

“It is ex­cit­ing and in­ter­est­ing be­cause ev­ery girl can win it. But I would say Mugu­ruza be­cause she played a great match against An­gelique Ker­ber,” said Henin.

“She has a good game on grass also so she has the ca­pac­ity to go to the end.

“But Venus Wil­liams, I ad­mire the fact that she’s still here, with lots of mo­ti­va­tion and de­ter­mi­na­tion. I also hope she can get to the fi­nal. Jo­hanna Konta is deal­ing well with the ex­pec­ta­tions. So it’s re­ally open. It’s very hard to pre­dict.”

Henin was full of ad­mi­ra­tion for Venus, who at 37 is two years her se­nior.

“She’s had ups and downs but she never quit. She keeps the pas­sion, she wants to be there, she still has the fire. She has been an in­spi­ra­tion for all of us. Venus and Ser­ena gave a lot to women’s ten­nis,” Henin said.

How­ever, even though the bal­ance of power in ten­nis has been shift­ing away from younger play­ers, the Bel­gian has no de­sire to join the Wil­liams sis­ters back com­pet­ing.

Henin has a four-year-old daugh­ter named Lalie and new son Vic­tor to take care of, plus she runs a ten­nis academy and a foun­da­tion for sick and dis­abled chil­dren in her home­land.

She is also ded­i­cated to im­prov­ing Bel­gium’s ten­nis stand­ing.

“The coun­try has a lot of tech­ni­cal po­ten­tial but is stuck at the phys­i­cal level. Tech­ni­cal po­ten­tial and tal­ent is not enough,” she said.

“I’m some­one who does ev­ery­thing 200 per­cent. My fam­ily time is my pri­or­ity now. And even phys­i­cally I couldn’t come back,” added the 2004 Olympic gold medal­ist.

“For me, it was clear that when I de­cided to have a fam­ily, ten­nis was over.

“I have no re­grets and I’m re­ally happy to be off the court, en­joy­ing watch­ing the matches with no pres­sure.

“I’m re­ally fo­cused on now and the fu­ture. I en­joy be­ing here at Wim­ble­don — but I will be so happy to go home af­ter­wards.”

Cu­bism on Cen­tre Court

Jus­tine Henin

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