Justine Henin Announces Retirement
Published January 26, 2011 12:00
MELBOURNE, Australia - Justine Henin has announced her retirement from professional tennis due to an elbow injury. A seven-time Grand Slam champion, Henin retired from the sport for the first time in May 2008, the first player in WTA history to do so while ranked No.1. The Belgian made a successful comeback at the start of 2010, reaching back-to-back finals at Brisbane and the Australian Open and capturing titles at Stuttgart and 's-Hertogenbosch in the spring. During a fourth round loss to Kim Clijsters at Wimbledon she suffered a right elbow injury and did not play for the remainder of the 2010 season.
On her official website, Henin said the following: "I have unfortunately not good news. I spent the last days undergoing various medical tests and they have confirmed that my elbow has been damaged by my adventure in Australia... After having well considered and following the advice of doctors, it is now clear and I accept that my career here finally ends. Even though it's hard, very hard, while I came back with a tremendous fighting spirit.
"I turn, and this time, an incredible page of my life... What a wonderful trip I have experienced during all these years. Today I'm calmer and I can create a positive and rewarding look back on this experience in my life... Finally and most importantly, thanks everyone. Thanks for standing by my side during all these years. I will never forget your support and your loyalty."
"Justine Henin will go down as one of the greatest female athletes of her era. She has been an incredible ambassador for women's tennis on and off the court, and her fighting spirit, tremendous courage and ultimate success has captured the minds and hearts of millions of fans around the world," said Stacey Allaster, Chairman and CEO of the WTA. "We have all been fortunate to once again have had the opportunity to witness the beauty of her game during these many past months, and no doubt we will miss seeing her on court competing like only Justine can. In her young career Justine has already done so much to inspire and give back to others, and I am sure this will continue to be a big part of the next chapter of her life."
Henin won 43 WTA titles - including seven Grand Slam titles - and has been ranked No.1 for a total of 117 weeks (seventh all-time). She has amassed more than $20 million in career prize money. But more importantly than any statistic, the 5'5" Henin was renowned for her spectacular one-handed backhand, incredible athleticism and unrivalled mental fortitude and work ethic.
Among many accomplishments, Henin achieved the following:
- finished three seasons at No.1 (2003, 2006, 2007)
- won seven Grand Slam titles (Australian Open in 2004, French Open in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007, and US Open in 2003 and 2007)
- won 43 WTA titles (seven Grand Slams, two WTA Championships and the Olympics in 2004, also helping Belgium win the Fed Cup in 2001)
- went on 32-match winning streak between 2007 and 2008 (longest since Venus Williams' 35 in 2000); posted a 63-4 win-loss record (0.94 - the best season winning percentage since Steffi Graf's 0.977 in 1989)
- in 2006 became seventh player in the Open Era to reach all four Grand Slam finals in the same calendar year (Court, Evert, Navratilova, Graf, Seles, Hingis)
After retiring from tennis in 2008, Henin turned her focus to charitable work, becoming a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and traveling to Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in that role throughout 2009. She created the "Justine For Kids" association, the purpose of which is to help develop and fund projects to aid sick children and their families. Henin founded the "Sixth Sense Academy" in 2007 with coach Carlos Rodriguez which has five locations - three in Belgium, one in Florida and the most recent one in China.