Tennis: Henin starts second tennis career on home ground

4th December 2009, Comments 0 comments

Former world number one Justin Henin will begin her second career on Saturday on home ground at Charleroi, 18 months after retiring from the women's circuit.

CHARLEROI - Henin, 27, retired on the eve of the 2008 French Open, a tournament she had won four times along with two US crowns and one Australian Open.

It was the first time in the history of the sport that a reigning number one - male or female - had quit.

But in September she announced she was on the comeback trail saying she had rediscovered her appetite for competition.

"The flame has been rekindled, I thought it had been extinguished," she explained.

In returning Henin followed in the footsteps of compatriot Kim Clijsters, who capped her own return with victory in the US Open.

Henin will face compatriot Kirsten Flipkens as she returns for an exhibition event.

She will then meet either Italian Flavia Pennetta or Alize Cornet of France.

"Justine is nervous as she knows everyone's eyes will be on her," coach Carlos Rodriguez said earlier this week after Henin had endured a gruelling preparation in Florida.

"She stood up well to the work without picking up any little injuries. She should be completely ready to go in January.

"I can't hold her back. She wants to play at any price," said Rodriguez.

Henin is slated to play another exhibition on December 12 in Cairo with Russian Nadia Petrova.

Her competitive return is pencilled in for the WTA event at Brisbane starting January 3, two weeks before the Australian Open.

Henin expects her second career to be a long-term engagement.

"If I come back it won't be for just a year," she said in September.

"It'll be for three or four years as there are the London Olympics in 2012, when I'll be 30," the age which French rival Amelie Mauresmo, Henin's conqueror in the 2006 Australian and Wimbledon finals, on Thursday decided was time to quit.

Henin held the world No.1 spot for 117 non-consecutive weeks, a position she had when she retired on May 14, 2008 citing a succession of injuries and a desire to live a life away from tennis.


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