Thu, Sep 24, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Former No. 1 Henin calls off retirement after 16 months

AP , BRUSSELS

Despite seven Grand Slam titles, an Olympic gold medal and more than two years as the world No. 1, Justine Henin didn’t feel quite satisfied enough after calling it quits on a stellar tennis career.

Her retirement lasted 16 months.

On Tuesday, Henin said her fire and desire to play and win again at the highest level was back, and she will return to the tour next year and compete in the Australian Open in January.

She wants to play at least until the 2012 London Olympics when she will be 30. By then, she hopes to have won Wimbledon — the only Grand Slam title missing on her resume that contains four French Open titles, two US Opens and one Australian Open championship.

“I want to keep going at least until then,” she said of the London Games.

She already won singles gold at the Athens Games in 2004.

Never having won Wimbledon really stung when her memories drifted back on her achievements.

So when the adrenaline rush came back a few months back, just about a year after she stunned the world with her “definitive decision” to retire, she asked her fellow-retiree Carlos Rodriguez, her coach, to give a comeback a thought.

“I hope this is the beginning of a new adventure, again,” she said.

Without any regrets she’s leaving recreational skiing, some theater and television work behind.

“Adrenaline is part of my life, my existence. It is in my character,” she said.

And the world had better take notice. After the comeback from retirement yielded her fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters a US open title within three tournaments, Henin has even more motivation.

Her timorous frame of 1.67m and 57kg is again lifting weights with the same determination of yore in the hope she will be able to out-hit the hulking power hitters.

She wants to play two exhibition tournaments, in Charleroi, Belgium, and Dubai, to hone her skills ahead of a competitive return at the Australian Open.

She officially retired on May 14 last year, initially rejecting any thought of a comeback with a dogged determination that had come to mark her play throughout a decade-long career.

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