Can Justine Henin win Wimbledon?

There are not many serial grand slam winners who never won Wimbledon: Monica Seles (nine Grand Slams), Ken Rosewall (eight), Ivan Lendl (eight), Mats Wilander (seven) and Justine Henin (seven).

Now Henin is making a comeback with the express purpose of removing herself from this list. “It is a dream of mine,” Henin said of winning Wimbledon in the second chapter of her career. “I want to work to get it. I make it a priority.”

On Henin’s side is her age [she is just 27], her lack of time away from the game, her fitness and the general opinion that her skills are unlikely to have atrophied in retirement. Then there is the example set by her compatriot Kim Clijsters who returned from retirement and won the US Open on a wildcard.

So on the second time round, can Henin capture the one Grand Slam that eluded her?

In terms of her toughest opponents, they will be familiar faces: Serena and Venus Williams. Venus beat Henin in the 2001 final and 2002 semi, while Serena was the victor when they met in the last four of 2003.

After a 6-1, 3-6, 6-0 defeat to Venus in the 2001 final, Henin’s first appearance in a Grand Slam decider, she told the world: “I think I proved today that size doesn’t matter.”

But after losing the 2002 semi-final to Venus 6-3, 6-2, Henin vocalised what many thought of her chances on grass against either of the Williams sisters. ”She didn’t let me play,” Henin said. ”I tried to do my best. I tried to go to the net. I was serving well, but she made great returns. I had nothing to do. I think she was too strong, too good. She was so aggressive, so powerful, so what could I do?”

The other potential stumbling block for Henin is her mental and physical fitness, witness her defeats to Amelie Mauresmo in the 2006 final and Marion Bartoli in the 2007 semi-final.

As Alison Kervin observed in The Times after the defeat to Bartoli. “The Belgian is not the type to make excuses for poor performances, but her demeanour after the match suggested deep fatigue. It is not so much physical strength she lacks, but some element of resolve seems to have gone missing temporarily from her make-up.”

It has not gone unnoticed that Serena and Venus Williams, with their selective entry into tournaments, are still the dominant players in the women’s game while Henin and Clijsters retired then returned. What will Henin’s approach be to the second part of her career? Will she also pick and choose the events she enters? Could she skip the French Open to concentrate on her grass game, as Ivan Lendl once did? Or will she continue as before, confident that her talent will be rewarded with her name on the Venus Rosewater Dish?

19 Comments

  1. Posted 2 October, 2009 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Hi,
    I will not be surprised if Justine Henin wins the Wimbledon title. She is a fine grass court player who has talent by her side. What she needs is to boost up her confident by winning the first one or two matches. Best of Luck to Henin.

    • Meridith C.
      Posted 15 June, 2010 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      While I agree Justine is quite graceful, on grass it’s all about POWER, and Justine lacks in that category big time. Also, her service game is VERY uneven since her return to the WTA. I find it quite fascinating that Justine says she wants to be more ‘aggressive,’ to win Wimbledon, yet for her to BE more aggressive on grass, she has to have her serve and volley working TOGETHER, and as I said, her service game is QUITE unreliable. HOW is Justine going to serve and volley with an average service game at best? Serena has the best service game in the WTA and is the best overall player, and Venus is quite simply Venus on grass, and both have won 8 of the last 10 Wimbledon Ladies crowns. I give either the heavy nod to win the Ladies Wimbledon crown for 2010 again. Justine has a chance–but a very SMALL chance, and she has to hope that both Venus/Serena both are knocked out of Wimbledon somehow.

  2. Mary Ellen Rubinacci
    Posted 31 October, 2009 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    I am a Justine Henin fan…she’ll beat Venus and Serena…give her time! She is the most graceful of tennis women…tennis is a game of gracefulness…and Justine has it!

  3. Posted 14 January, 2010 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Так мило, но так банально… 🙂

  4. Posted 16 April, 2010 at 3:55 am | Permalink

    Justine can win any tournament she enters, including Wimbledon! Loving watching her play again. Justine’s fans should check her out at Great Friends Greetings – http://www.greatfriendsgreetings.com – one of the cooler new gift ideas to hit the planet…

  5. Bridget C.
    Posted 6 June, 2010 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Justine struggled and was beaten on HER favorite surface which is clay by Sam Stosur, a very powerful player who blew Justine off the court. So much for gracefulness and skill. Justine has a TINY chance to win a Wimbledon, game is of NO help to her, and Venus & Serena will more than likely be on different sides of the draw in 2010 I think, and she’s gonna have to go through both and other players too who are more powerful and have better service games.

    Finally, Justine is also NOT the same player she was prior to her retirement in 2008. It’s gonna be a LONG Wimbledon for Justine I fear.

  6. Posted 14 June, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    She will not beat the williams sister they are to good on Grass.. Her best Chance to beat the williams sister is on clay…

  7. Posted 26 July, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    It looks like she’s really determined to get it done. She certainly has the ability to win it. I hope she does!

  8. Posted 30 July, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    We all know the answer relating this year I think 🙂 But, I’m convinced that in future Justine Henin will surprise public with high quality game. I’m pretty sure about that.

  9. Posted 1 August, 2010 at 1:59 am | Permalink

    I was doing some research on Henin and came across this post. What a great analysis of the tournament and the obstacles she would face. Namely the Williams sisters.

    Henin is such a great player and competitor but beating those two is a mammoth of a challenge.

  10. Posted 2 August, 2010 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Whatever happened to the great matchups between Justine and Kim Clistjers? Those were truly epic!

  11. Posted 13 August, 2010 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    If Justine puts her mind to it, believes in herself and her skills, she can win the Wimbledon.

    Good luck Justine.

  12. Posted 16 September, 2010 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    Serena is now 118 weeks at number one taking over Justine Henin ( in total)

    she is currently on a streak of 42 weeks at number one .. can she take over her own record of 57??

  13. Posted 27 September, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    In terms of her toughest opponents, they will be familiar faces: Serena and Venus Williams. Venus beat Henin in the 2001 final and 2002 semi, while Serena was the victor when they met in the last four of 2003.

  14. Posted 18 October, 2010 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    I am a Venus fan. She is amazing to watch and she says in great shape.

  15. Posted 24 October, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I am a huge fan of Justine and I definitely think she is a winner. She will have that Wimbledon, whether is this year of the next.

  16. Posted 9 November, 2010 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Well Justine’s made quite an impression this year.
    Shame about the elbow injury taking her out before season end.

    Here’s hoping she pulls something special out the bag in January at Hopman Cup 😉

  17. Posted 29 November, 2010 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    I think Henin has a good shot at winning the wimbledon title if she can overcome fatigue.

  18. Posted 15 January, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    I would like to think so. She has the ability and the belief in herself. A great combination!


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