Henin has no doubts about Serena
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.”
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