Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Henin To Call it Quits

By Tennis Week

Justine Henin is ready to walk away from professional tennis. The World No. 1 will make an announcement about her future at a press conference in Belgium today.

The Belgian media reports Henin will either announce her retirement or reveal plans to take an extended break from tennis.

The seven-time Grand slam champion withdrew from this week's Rome tournament citing fatigue, incurring a $20,000 fine. Henin has posted a 22-4 record on the season. She won two of the first three tournaments she entered — beating Svetlana Kuznetsova, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to win the Sydney title in her first tournament of the season and crushing Karin Knapp, 6-3, 6-3, to win the Antwerp title in her native Belgium — but since that strong start her tradedmark tenacity and competitive spirit has been lacking. A weary Henin has gone 5-3 in her last eight matches and looked lethargic in a 6-2, 6-0, quarterfinal loss to Serena Williams at the Sony Ericsson Open as well as a 7-5, 3-6, 1-6, setback to Dinara Safina in the third round of last week's German Open in Berlin.

Henin is only 25 years old, but the accelerated pace of the pro circuit prompted her to consider life after tennis. Henin hinted at her desire to retire in a press conference with the media in Berlin last week.

"I'm young in life, but starting to get old on the tour," Henin said. "I'm growing up and I need different things. Even physically I don't recover as well as I did when I was 20. That's normal. Now I've been playing tennis for 20 years and it's been my whole life but as a woman, as you get older, you need to think about the future. I'd love to go back to study. It would be a good challenge and I've been thinking about it a lot recently."