World number one Henin quits tennis
Women's tennis world number one Justine Henin announced her retirement from tennis with immediate effect on Wednesday15 May 2008
BRUSSELS - Women's world number one Justine Henin Wednesday announced her retirement from tennis with immediate effect.
The 25-year-old told at a news conference at Limelette, south of Brussels, said she had taken the decision after a great deal of thought.
"I started thinking about it late last year. I was at the end of the road. I leave with my head held high," she said.
Henin, who has dominated women's tennis for the past two years, said it was "the end of a child's dream".
"This is a definitive decision. Those who know me know it is serious," she added.
Larry Scott, chief executive of the WTA Tour, said it was "a sad day for our sport and for her millions of fans around the world."
Henin had withdrawn from this week's Italian Open, citing fatigue.
The decision comes less than two weeks before the French Open, a tournament she has won four times including the last three.
She is the winner of seven Grand Slam titles - including two US Opens and one Australian Open - 41 career titles and the 2004 Olympic gold.
But this year had seen disappointing defeats at the quarter-final stages of the Australian Open to winner Maria Sharapova of Russia and in Miami to Serena Williams of the United States.
Last week after elimination in the last 16 of the German Open in Berlin, she had spoken of the possibility of quitting.
Retirement has now come just just one year after compatriot Kim Clijsters decided to hang up the racket at 23 because she felt worn out after many years on the tour.
Like Clijsters, Henin has been plagued by injuries. And like her rival, she also believed there was more to life than tennis.
Henin won a career-best nine titles in 2007 and went undefeated in the second half of the year.
She won just two titles early in the year (Sydney and Antwerp), and after losing to Russia's Dinara Safina in Berlin last week said she wanted to travel and possibly study.
"I'm young in life, but starting to get old on the tour. I'm growing up and I need different things," she had said in Berlin.
"Now I've been playing tennis for 20 years and it's been my whole life but as a woman, as you get older, you need to think about the future."
WTA chief Scott said Henin would be remembered "as one of the all-time great champions in women's tennis".
He said Henin was a woman who made up for her lack of size with a will to win and fighting spirit that was second to none.
"It is rare that an athlete leaves at the very top of her game in this day and age, but Justine has always played by her own rules, in the very best sense of those words," he said.
[dpa / Expatica]