No.1 Spotlight: Justine Henin
Published June 23, 2013 12:00
Born in Belgium's industrial heartland of Liège, it is perhaps unsurprising that hard work was the cornerstone of Justine Henin's rise to tennis greatness.
Competing in an era populated by the Amazonian might of Lindsay Davenport and the Williams sisters, at first, Henin was viewed as too petite to survive. But, belying her 5' 5" frame, the Belgian undertook a grueling fitness regimen to transform her body and game into a force to be reckoned with.
This physical transformation played a pivotal role in Henin's first two majors, enabling her to recover from grueling semifinals to lift both the French and US Opens in 2003. Yet, it would be a gross misrepresentation to label Henin as merely a gutsy street fighter.
If anything, she was more artisan than aggressor, painting pictures on the court with her elegant groundstrokes and balletic movement. In the end, this combination of grace and guts brought her seven majors - four on the red clay of her beloved Roland Garros - Olympic gold and a place alongside the all-time greats.
• Won seven Grand Slam singles titles: one Australian Open (2004), four French Opens (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007) and two US Opens (2003, 2007)
• Also among her 43 WTA singles titles (43-18 in finals) were triumphs at her debut event at Antwerp in 1999, at the Olympics in 2004 and at the WTA Championships in 2006 and 2007
• Held No.1 rankings in singles for 117 non-consecutive weeks, seventh most all-time, and finished season at No.1 three times (2003, 2006-07)
• With Kim Clijsters, led Belgium to its only Fed Cup title in 2001
• Record-breaking 2007 season included winning 10 of 14 events entered, over $5 million in prize money (first woman to crack that single-season prize money milestone) and 63-4 record
• In 2010, became eighth player in WTA history to surpass the $20 million mark in career prize money earnings
• Won WTA's Most Improved Player Award in 2001
• Won WTA's Player Of The Year Award in 2003 and 2007
• Won Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year for 2007 achievements
• Won WTA's Comeback Player Of The Year Award in 2010
• Established Justine Henin Academy in Belgium in 2007