Mauresmo Waylays Demons, Henin for Wimbledon Crown

Posted on July 9, 2006

Formerly one of women's tennis' premier chokers, until this year reaching the No. 1 ranking without a Grand Slam title, Amelie Mauresmo put the choker tag to rest Saturday in the Wimbledon final, holding her nerve to come back from a set down and defeat Justine Henin-Hardenne 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Mauresmo had won her first Slam title in January at Australia, but the title was suspect after Henin-Hardenne, her opponent in the final, retired trailing in the match citing stomach pain.

With a determined look and a bounce in her step Saturday, the Frenchwoman convincingly held serve at 5-4 to quell her personal demons and win her second Slam.

"I don't want anyone to talk about my nerves anymore," Mauresmo said.

The handshake after the match showed their is no love lost between the competitors, and when in her acceptance speech Mauresmo speculated the Belgian could have been tired after winning the French Open and the grasscourt title at Eastbourne, television cameras caught Henin-Hardenne in her sideline chair shaking her head and glancing at her coach as if the conditioning comment was an affront.

Mauresmo climbed into the stands after the win to hug her support team, and the non-compromising lesbian later donned a t-shirt stating: "2006 Wimbledon Champion. I am what I am."

In the end Mauresmo's new mental-toughness resume included three three-set wins during the fortnight against former Slam champions Anastasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova and Henin-Hardenne. The win also denied Henin-Hardenne the coveted "career Slam," with Wimbledon still the only major to elude her.

"Two Grand Slams in a month, it's pretty hard," Henin-Hardenne said of her French Open title then run to the Wimbledon final.

The wind also played a part in Henin-Hardenne frequently suffering from the "shanks" during the match.

"I wasn't playing my best tennis, far from that," Henin-Hardenne said. "That's the kind of day that happens."

The doubles final will be contested between No. 4-seeded Chinese Zi Yan/Zie Zheng and former No. 1s Virginia Ruano Pascual/Paola Suarez.