Laureus Nod For Justine?
Published December 21, 2010 12:00
LONDON, United Kingdom - Belgian star Justine Henin, who was the winner of the prestigious Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year Award three years ago, has been named as a strong contender for nomination for the 2011 Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award - the very prize won by her compatriot Kim Clijsters in 2010.
Emerging from 16 months in retirement, Henin returned to tennis last January. The former world No.1 and seven-time Grand Slam champion reached the final at her first event, the Brisbane International, falling in a barnburner to Clijsters. Three weeks later she reached the final of the Australian Open, pushing Serena Williams to three sets.
In May, 28-year-old Henin beat Samantha Stosur in the final of the Porsche Grand Prix at Stuttgart, which propelled her back inside the Top 20. She also won the Unicef Open at 's-Hertogenbosch in June, beating Andrea Petkovic to take her 43rd career title.
The wheels came off at Wimbledon, however, when Henin suffered an elbow injury in her fourth round encounter against Clijsters. That proved to be the end of her season, but her 32-8 match win-loss record suggests better days ahead - and, promisingly, she was able to play an exhibition with Clijsters in Antwerp earlier this month.
The names of the six nominees for the Laureus World Comeback of the Year Award, as voted by the Laureus Media Selection Panel, will be announced in early January.
Among the other contenders are American sprinter Tyson Gay, Swedish heptathlete Carolina Kluft, Jamaican sprinter Merlene Ottey - who this year became the oldest ever woman to compete in a major athletics championship, at 50 - Italian motor cycle ace Valentino Rossi, and golfer Paula Creamer.
The 2011 Laureus World Sports Awards will be presented in Abu Dhabi on February 7.