don’t call it a comeback.

A few weeks ago Justine Henin announced that she will be coming back from retirement for the 2010 season. Excuse me for a minute while I attempt to feign surprise. *GASP* You’re kidding! You mean the woman who left the top of the game at age 25? *GASP* The woman who retired just before being able to defend her French Open title for the third time? The woman who retired  when she was ranked number one? *GASP*

How was that? Did you buy it? What……? Too many gasps?

As a pure tennis fan, the matchups next year will be great to watch. I’ll be interesting to see her go up against the Williams sisters, Kim Clijsters, Maria Sharapova and others. But, I’m not necessarily excited to have her back. Let me explain.

I’ve heard conflicting reports about her public reason for returning. I heard that she wrote a letter to Clijsters saying that her US Open win has inspired her to return to the game. I’ve also read that when asked if that indeed was the case, she brushed that off and said it was Roger Federer finally winning the one major title that had always eluded him, the French Open. She wants to accomplish the same thing by winning Wimbledon.

And people want to say that Serena Williams stole the attention from Clijsters with her angry foot fault reaction? Look, Serena was fighting to stay in that match the entire time and it was looking like she was going to come up short that night regardless. She hardly stole Kim’s thunder in my opinion. So then two weeks later, Henin feels like she needs to announce on live tv in Belgium that she is making a comeback. I’m not really getting any sense of sincerity with this move.  She should have just held a press conference and said, “Anything you can do, I can do better” and walked out.

Seriously, we all knew you were coming back. Can young people who are at their peak in sports and clearly love it to death stop saying they’re going to retire? I mean, did anyone not see Kim’s return coming?Maybe you are  not allowed to say you want to take a break. Is that a unwritted WTA rule? As we had come to see over her career, Justine is an extremely competitive person. How can someone like that stay away from the game when they can clearly still win? Come on.

I don’t like when people say they “hate” celebrities or anyone in the public eye that they don’t know personally. So I’m definitely not going to say that. Anyway, there was one incident in particular that made me lose some respect for her. You know what I’m talking about. The French Open when she held her hand up during Serena’s serve and basically didn’t own up to it when Serena called her out on it.

I know it’s the chair umpires responsibility to moderate and take control of the match but really though? Please, play fairly. It’s like when Capriati was playing Serena in US Open and had a TERRIBLE call in the beginning of the third set. Serena hit a winner called in by the line ump to give her the advantage on her serve. Chair umpire calls it out and gives Capriati the break point. Being competitive is one thing but do you really want to win knowing that the match wasn’t played out in the most fair way? Is it totally out of the question to step up and say something? I just don’t get that. But seriously, try playing fairly. When balls are in, the person who hit it should get that point.  I promise you, you’ll feel better about yourself.

Also, I’ve already made clear how much I dislike the way certain players rely on their coaches too much. Justine Henin is one of those players. But she is worse because she tries to hide it. She couldn’t do a more terrible job if she tried. She creepily peeks around the brim of her hat and out of the corner of her eye up at her box to get coached by Carlos Rodriguez. WE CAN SEE YOU!

Let’s not forget how she retired in the Australian Open final against Amelie Mauresmo. Mauresmo was going for her first grand slam title, she’s doing well winning 6-1, 2-0 and Henin retires due to stomach flu symptoms. I cannot pretend that I know exactly how she was feeling and know for a fact that she could have continued on. I don’t.  However, if you can walk and still hold on to a racket, I need for you to finish the match. I can’t imagine what has to be going through someones mind to think that retiring in a grand slam final is an acceptable thing to do. You just can’t do that. No one would want to close out an amazing two week performance with a match like that. Fortunately, Mauresmo proved it wasn’t a fluke by winning Wimbledon later that year.

So as you can see, I didn’t exactly lose any sleep when Justine Henin retired. But now that she’s back,  I’m sure she’ll do really well. When you’re as good as she is, time off (as long as it isn’t too long) doesn’t have too big of and impact on you except to make you more hungry. Anyway, maybe she has changed with the time she’s had to relax and reflect. It is possible that she has learned how to harness her competitive edge in a more positive way. One can only hope…

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~ by ksportsb on October 2, 2009.

2 Responses to “don’t call it a comeback.”

  1. Hater!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Yeah stop hating on henin! She’s a class act in so many ways…just overlook that french open classic with serena…and that australian open match w/ clijsters…so what if she needs to bend the rules of sportsmanship to win her most competitive matches…i mean isn’t that what the greatest champions do to win…oh wait…they DONT…because they are classy champions. Get a life henin.

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