Justine Henin Planning a Return to Tennis?
by Sean Randall | August 26th, 2009, 7:05 pm

In news that’s about as surprising as water being wet and the sky being blue, former World No. 1 Justine Henin is apparently planning a comeback to professional tennis, that according to the Belgian press. ADHEREL

Henin, who mysteriously and abruptly retired just before the 2008 French Open, is reported to have signed up to play exhibition matches in December in Belgium and Dubai with an eye toward returning to the sport full-time in January.

The 27-year-old Henin won 41 titles during her career including seven Grand Slams. She is no doubt buoyed by the success her countrywoman Kim Clijsters has had in her recent return. And with a full realization that the depleted talent field in women’s tennis is rife with opportunity it’s not wonder she’s contemplating a return.

Plus, what else is she doing with her time away from tennis, singing?

Capriati, Graf, Seles, Evert, Mandlikova. Who’s next to return?

In more important news, the US Open draw will be out in about 16 hours!

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29 Comments for Justine Henin Planning a Return to Tennis?

Kimmi Says:

I love Justine, I will be happy to see her back. beautiful BH and that inside out FH that she said she had to work so hard to perfect it… great all court game that I would live to see again on women tour.

Dan Martin Says:

Maybe the WTA should build a sabbatical system in or flex time where a player can skip events off and on a la the Williams Sisters or if a player saves up down time she can take years off of tour.

jane Says:

Yeah, I wouldn’t mind seeing Justine back. But this leaving and coming back thing is a little weird.

Dan you raise an interesting point; in some jobs, like in academia, people can take stress leave, or educational leave, or a sabbatical and not lose their jobs or seniority.

But in competitive sports??? It is awkward that these players leave, are given big good-byes, and then lo and behold,

“they’re baaaaccck!”

It’s kind of like the whole thing with Santoro, where he was presumably gone after last year, and there were good-bye comments and accommodations made at the various slams, and then guess what? He’s back again this year.

So as much as the WTA can use Cljisters and Henin back – and I am actually happy to see Kim back and would be happy to see Justine play again – I find this retire/return game sorta strange.

It’s not comparable to injuries in my opinion, because in that case the player is forced to leave and recuperate, undergo surgery and so forth, and then returns after the appropriate period of healing. Or a suspension is a different animal too.

jane Says:

“In more important news, the US Open draw will be out in about 16 hours!”

Speaking of which, here’s tennistalk’s “preview” (!) of the draw, part of a 5-part series/set of articles:


blah Says:

Didn’t Justine retire abruptly? Jane- I think you make a good point, it can get annoying after a while (for anyone who watches football, see Favre, Brett) but Henin didn’t have a goodbye fanfare tour and didn’t ask for one like Santoro. I think Santoro probably did it on purpose, just because he is Santoro.

jane Says:

blah, I actually thought about that as I was writing my post, because Justine is the exception in a way; she did have an “abrupt” good-bye, so maybe her return is good, not only for the tour and because we can see that luscious backhand again and her all-court variety, but also because, when she does leave next time, we can say good-bye properly!

I just hope she doesn’t come back again after that.

Or then it starts to get like those horrors movies, you know? Where that damn Jason just won’t go away already. LOL.

jane Says:

And blah, in that article link I posted above, Dimon singles out Gasquet as a dangerous floater, so finally we can see Richard play again at the USO, speaking of happy “returns.”

JoshDragon Says:

I agree, this news is not surprising at all. Justine’s return should be good for the women’s game but she’s been away from the tour for over a year and at 27 she’s probably entering the later stage of her tennis career. So it’s hard to say how much of an impact her return will have on the WTA.

prue Says:

I think the probability of Justine returning to the pro tennis circuit is relatively 1%. Just because she’s playing exhibition matches doesn’t mean she’s already preparing to come back, and as much as I want to believe such news, it’s a press thing hence it means it’s most likely untrue. Media really loves to play words in their headlines…

I want to say I miss her, but the truth is I just became a fan of her 1 year after her retirement… I really wish I knew her during her fantastic years in tennis… =(

Colin Says:

This will give Kim Clijsters cold shivers! Are we to see some repeats of those well-known chokes against her compatriot?
Personally I dislike these comebacks, simply because I think people – ALL people – should say what they mean and mean what they say. I agree that this may not apply here, as Justine didn’t make a big deal of her retirement.
As for the idea that retired players can’t find anything else to fill their lives, if that is so they must be sad individuals.

yvette vanderhoeft Says:

being a belgian citizen, i am more than happy to see justin coming back, she is the best player in the world,(i know serena think she is) there is no one who can play like justin, her backhand, forehand and dropshots, she is simply the best,so i hope the rumours are true. A very proud belgian citizen

Jill Says:

Carlos says she’s just training for her exhibitions. She’s not planning a comeback.

The funny thing is that she was mocked and ridiculed and generally treated with great criticsm when she was playing, but since she’s retired and the WTA has gone to pot, suddenly she’s missed.

Then again, she wasn’t the greatest model of sportsmanship so whatever.

Voicemale1 Says:

It would be great if she did come back. The WTA needs more layers of her caliber. She was asked by Tennis Magazine several months ago, after Clijsters announced she was returning, if she’d consider returning too. Her reply then was “I’m broken. Every day, if it’s not my knee, it’s my shoulder”. And the comeback talk might be premature. Her former coach, Carlos Rodriguez, had this to say about this recent news:

“Carlos Rodriguez, Justine Henin’s coach when she was on tour, says Henin is hitting again but the two have not discussed a comeback. “She is practicing, yes,” said Rodriguez. “Two or three time a week, to get back in form because she has not played in a year.”
On whether Henin will return to the tour, Rodriguez said, “I don’t think so. There is nothing that tells me she shall come back. We haven’t even talked about it.”

So..who knows?

Polo Says:

I would hope that when a player retires that he/she stays retired. So far those who unretired never regained their previous forms and simply become disappointments.

Von Says:

Colin: “This will give Kim Clijsters cold shivers! Are we to see some repeats of those well-known chokes against her compatriot?

Yes, indeed. Kim always fell apart against Henin and at the most important moments of the match.

“Personally I dislike these comebacks, simply because I think people – ALL people – should say what they mean and mean what they say.”

I don’t have a problem per se with the comeback, it’s just that they are public figures and they are the ones who look confused. Albeit, I do have a huge problem with incongruence generally, I suppose people are entitled to change their minds and who am I to dictate what they should or shouldn’t do. I don’t doubt that they care one iota as to what we, the sports fans, think.

“I agree that this may not apply here, as Justine didn’t make a big deal of her retirement.”

I look upon her retirement the first time as a spontaneous act, something done when her emotions were riding high and in the spur/heat of the moment. By so doing, she didn’t really give herself the time to go through the retirement process as Safin is doing, and she omitted a passage of rite stage by not experiencing closure which is extremely important in any one’s life when they are moving through stages, IMO. I suppose her return and subsequent retirement will give her the closure she needs to say goodbye when it happens again, and to fully and completely brace the closure and culmination of her career.

Polo Says:

I doubt if Justine will return. She has to work extremely hard to beat power players like the Williams sisters and Safina. Her game was on the way down when she “retired”. In spite of the percieved sorry state of women’s tennis, I don’t think Justine will regain her form to be competitive with the power girls. If she returns to get the so-called “closure”, I foresee a painful and embarrassing one.

Skorocel Says:

yvette vanderhoeft:

As much as I like Justine for her play (which, even though not as beautiful as that of Hingis or Graf, is still SECOND TO NONE when compared to the rest of all the current active players, Williams sisters included), when it comes to naming the best player of the current era (or, better said, post-Graf era), it’s without question Serena Williams.

Colin Says:

Von, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying what people should do, as long as one doesn’t try in any way to MAKE them, as do so many sections of the human race, by political or other means.

Clive Says:

Ultimately, pro tennis is hard mentally because you are always on the move.

If she really wants it. She should come.

Should we change the WTA Ranking System?

RZ Says:

Something to remember is that these top players have millions of dollars, so they can decide to quit right away since money is not a concern. But then they get bored because they don’t find anything out there quite as enticing as the competition tennis brings…

RZ Says:

Skorocel, I agree w/ you that Serena is clearly the top player of the current era. Had Justine not retired, we might have been saying that about her. But she gave up that quest and Serena took full advantage (good for her).

Mujeeb khan Says:

she should come back . She is a fantastic player .
she had place like federer . with her return tennis will be more entersting .

moms love fila, too « tennis served fresh Says:

[…] on the red carpet to ask her about life back on the tour, traveling with little Jada and (Shhhh!) a possible comeback by her countrywoman, Justine […]

Tennisfan Says:

Henin was head and shoulder above all the other women when she retired … even at 4ft 9 …
She had no problem handling the “power game” (if you want to call it that of current women players). She has an all-court game …easily enough to beat all the base liners that play in the WTA. Maybe she’ll inspire some new strategy in the womens game … it is sorely lacking …

Milena Says:


In regard to the current state of the WTA Tour, I think the young Spanish player, Carla Suarez Navarro, has a beautiful one-handed backhand paired up with an all-court game. However, having said that, in order for her to beat these power-players, she needs to develop it further – take it up a notch (as it is commonly said), which she probably will as her career develops. All the best to her.

I do hope Justine comes back as her tennis is book perfect. Her tennis repertoire boasted wonderful shot-making ability and technique paired up with great athleticism. Justine Henin was truly unique in this era of monotonous repetitive tennis (in the WTA Tour) as she was against all odds (tall power-players against a 1.67m frame) and was able to outsmart and ‘out-hit’ these player and, ultimately, beat them.

My very beast wishes go to Henin and I do hope she makes a comeback.

Cheetah Says:

Henin was a wonderful player. If she wants to return, great! But as far as her being the best, let’s wait to see her and Serena battle it out on the courts with BOTH of them at their top level of fitness! Serena is not only playing the power game, but she is also playing with strategy!!! When Henin left, Serena was NOT at the top of her game!! Now she is. If determination and drive and confidence are a part of the criteria for number one player, then I think we may have a tie!! LOL

It’s Official, Henin’s Back in Tennis Says:

[…] often than not in tennis, rumors turn into truth, and here we have another example. A month ago reports surfaced that former No. 1 Justine Henin, who had abruptly retired in May 2008, was planning a return to […]

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