As I watched Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters enter a third set in their semifinal on Thursday night at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, I thought of the lucky players who get second chances in their careers.
This is the era of super racquets and super strings which bring players’ careers to a premature end. If it’s not from the toll these racquets and strings bring about on the arm and shoulder, then it’s the toll they take on the legs and body, sprinting to chase down the resulting super-groundstrokes.
Some tour injuries have been a result of the new technology, while some have been results of detrimental game styles, or fitness failure.
Case in point: Henin and Clijsters, who both retired in part or in full to toll the game had taken on their bodies while still in their early 20s (both said it).
Case in point: Rafael Nadal, whose scrambling game has left his knees in shambles and is looking at a possible early retirement at a young age (hopefully not, he has had to take a lot of time off over the last two years due to the knees).
Case in point: Serena Williams, who over her career has failed to maintain the weight and fitness level of an elite athlete. She is currently sidelined with a chronic knee problem due to carrying around excess weight.
This makes the case of Henin and Clijsters all the sweeter. These two talents that exited the game early are now back with their full talent on display. We are the beneficiaries of their early retirements that saved their games. If only other players were so lucky.
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