Justin Henin Interview - Wimbledon, June 25

Posted on June 25, 2010

Justin Henin Interview
Friday, 25 June 2010

Q. I saw your match and I saw Kim's match. You both look in terrific form. You both look as if you're capable of going a long way in this tournament, maybe right to the end of the tournament. Do you feel it's a shame that one of you must depart on Monday evening?

JUSTINE HENIN: Well, just let me enjoy, I mean, my victory today first 'cause you talk about who is going to be off on Monday night.

Well, it's great opportunity for both of us. I mean, to play each other again in a Grand Slam, I think it's something we couldn't expect for still a year ago. It's going to be interesting, very exciting. But it's on Monday.

So now I just have to come down from this match. It's going to be two days off.

So, I mean, it's still very warm, you know. It's going to be tough to talk about that match, except that I hope it's going to be a good one and that the best will win.

Q. How would you describe your style of play and Kim's, the similarities and differences?

JUSTINE HENIN: Well, I mean, our careers, we grew up at the same time. We arrived at the top at the same time. We almost retired at the same time. We almost came back at the same time. So we very close.

But in terms of game, of course, we play different kind of tennis. Kim is very powerful, but she's moving very well, and she has big weapons in his game. A real fighter also. The attitude is unbelievable.

And I just try to use these different kind of things. I have to move forward. I have to be very aggressive if I want to have a chance. I know what I'll have to do. But it's going to be a question of ‑‑ it's not that easy to do it on the court. So to do it on the court...

I would say in our first career, we never played our best tennis against each other. This year it's been two times 7‑6 in the third, so very close and I hope it's going to be another good one.

Q. How has your relationship evolved?

JUSTINE HENIN: Our relationship is very good. We can feel we grew up a lot, both of us. I mean, Kim, of course, having a baby, and the distance I took also for two years.

We had a fantastic time in the Fed Cup tie together. Probably discover each other not differently than in the past, but we more adults now, and we have a lot of respect. So, of course on the court, I mean, we both want to win, but the relationship is very good.

Q. You played three matches here. You've had a couple of matches in the Netherlands last week. How do you compare your grass court game in 2006 and 2007?

JUSTINE HENIN: It's very hard to compare. Before this tournament, I said it's a year of transition. So even if I want to enjoy my game and I want to win as many matches as possible here, uhm, I probably also think about the future. Now every moment is important. I hope I can go as far as possible.

I just try to do my best on the grass, and that's working pretty good. My serve has improved, of course, in the last few months. Physically it's been very difficult time on clay. Physically on grass, probably helps me because on clay you have to be very strong, and I was a bit too short for that and haven't been very healthy in the last few weeks, but I'm feeling better.

So, uhm, now you know I just go step by step. It was a very good one today. I'm very happy the way I played. The next match, of course, is going to be very difficult.

I think my game is good now, but very hard to compare.

Q. Is it a little bit easier coming here, more relaxing, than when you were world No. 1 coming here?

JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, I mean, it's totally different kind of situation. As I said the other day, when I was coming from winning the French Open a few times, being No. 1, it was a lot of pressure as I was running after the only Grand Slam title I never won.

And this year it's like it's a great opportunity to enjoy Wimbledon, and that's what I'm doing. I mean, I wasn't feeling very well after the French Open. Physically and emotionally was not that easy.

But I think, well, it's been so many positive things from the beginning of the season. Some ups and downs, but still pretty consistent. I know there's still a long way to do. I'm really realistic about that. So I'm not here really to win Wimbledon; I'm here to give my best and I'm here to go as far as possible in the tournament.

Q. Did the nature of your return change at all after the Australian Open when you saw you could still do this well?

JUSTINE HENIN: Well, when I decided to come back, of course, there are so many questions because you never know. I mean, a comeback is something new for me. It's something I never lived in the past.

At the beginning, probably don't know what to expect. But I didn't realize it would be, I mean, as hard as it is. You know, when you leave this bubble and you take some distance and you have to come back into this world and give everything all the time, and you need to find the confidence, being consistent all the time, that's why I was strong in the past.

In Australia, things have been pretty fast, maybe too fast, because after that I had to confirm. I did it with some ups and downs. I was ready for it. You don't find your level, I mean, in five months. I took so many years to build it.

I just give my best every time I'm on the court. The goal remains to be healthy after this season, after Wimbledon, of course, but at the end of the season and get ready to work harder for next year also.

Q. You talk about having rediscovered the sense of self during the time away. Have you maintained that during the six months you've been back?

JUSTINE HENIN: Yeah, of course. The challenge is to find a good balance between that and being a tennis player again. Because, of course, I wouldn't say I've changed but I grew up. I learned a lot of things.

I mean, you have to deal with that, between the professional life and personal life. When you're a top athlete, it takes a lot from you and there are a lot of sacrifices.

But the challenge is to stay the way I grew up, but still being able to be at the top.

Q. Can you tell me which elements of your life are fun and which are serious and which one tennis falls into?

JUSTINE HENIN: Well, I mean, two years off has been fantastic. I proved myself I could exist without tennis. I started to trust myself much better.

So, of course, when you decide to come back, you realize there are things that you will not do anymore because of tennis.

But, like I said, this question of balance, I had a lot of fun away from the court. I have a lot of fun to come back in a certain different way. I don't miss really a lot of things from the two years that I was off. I think it's just great feeling at 28 to get this second opportunity to do what I love so much for a long time.

Q. When you and Kim came up many years ago, it created a great buzz in Belgium. Did the interest in tennis dip after you retired, and how is it now?

JUSTINE HENIN: It was tough for Belgian tennis, of course, when Kim and I decided to stop. It was a fantastic generation. But the one before was good also with Dominique Monami and Sabine Appelmans. We remain a small country. Also, the men have really good results. I mean, we proved we could do a lot of things for a little country.

But it was difficult when we stopped. Then Yanina Wickmayer arrived, Kim came back, Kirsten Flipkens a very good season also. It's great that we have this interest in the Belgian tennis again.

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