Henin confirms comeback
Seven-time Grand Slam winner to make WTA Tour return next year
Last Updated: 23/09/09 6:03pm
Henin: retirement u-turn
Former world number one Justine Henin has announced she will return to professional tennis in 2010.
"There is a flame that has been re-lit. I thought it had been put out forever."
Justine Henin Quotes of the week
Henin, who retired in May 2008 at the age of 25 saying she no longer had any passion for the game, plans to play exhibition matches in Dubai and Charleroi, Belgium ahead of a full WTA Tour comeback at the start of next year.
"I'm really happy and deeply moved to be able to announce tonight that I'm coming back to competitive tennis," Henin told RTL-TVI on Tuesday.
"These past 15 months have been enriching... but there is a flame that has been re-lit. I thought it had been put out forever."
The 27-year-old's retirement u-turn comes just over a week after fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters capped her own comeback with victory at the US Open.
"Subconsciously, it might have had an impact," Henin said. "But it certainly was not the most important reason."
Henin has seven Grand Slam titles among a total haul of 41 career victories and was credited with the best backhand in the women's game prior to her shock decision to call it quits.
She has won the French Open four times, the US Open twice, the Australian Open once and an Olympic gold in 2004, leaving Wimbledon as the only major tournament to have eluded her.
The Liege-born player was world number one for 117 non-consecutive weeks, a position she held when she retired 16 months ago citing a succession of injuries and a desire to live a life away from tennis.
Henin, whose Grand Slam return will be at the Australian Open in January, is to once again be coached by Carlos Rodriguez.
The Argentinean revealed that one of the principle reasons behind Henin's comeback was a desire to win Wimbledon.
"I swear I was extremely surprised," he said. "I'm happy because at the end of the day it's what she loves.
"She has entrusted me (to be her coach) once again and I will try to never let her down.
"I'm very happy to be helping her to restart her new life. It's a super challenge for her.
"The desire to win Wimbledon is one of the main reasons she's come back and I'll do everything to help her do it."
WTA Tour chief Stacey Allaster was delighted to welcome back Henin.
"Justine is one of the great champions in the history of women's tennis and we, along with millions of her fans around the globe, are thrilled with her announcement today," Allaster said in a statement.
"Justine is that rare athlete who decided to step away from the game at the height of her powers and no doubt she will be a force to be reckoned with. Her career was marked by so many amazing moments and a new chapter begins today."