'I have nothing to prove except enjoy my tennis'
Justine Henin says, "It has been great year since I came back from a tough situation personally. It was tough to come back professionally and I did my best."india Updated: Sep 06, 2007 21:54 IST
In a year that has tested her heart and soul, Justine Henin has split with her husband, reunited with her family and moved within reach of a seventh Grand Slam title this weekend at the US Open.
The Belgian world number one and reigning French Open champion will play reigning Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in Friday's semifinals for a berth in Saturday night's championship match at the year's last Grand Slam event.
But Henin, 25, already feels like a champion after having bounced back from the breakup of her marriage to Pierre-Yves Hardenne and the reconcilliation with her father Jose, elder brothers David and Thomas and younger sister Sarah.
"I'm really proud of what I did this year. It has been great because I came back from a very tough situation personally. It was tough to come back professionally and just do my best and that's what I did," Henin said.
"I enjoy my tennis probably much more now than a year ago. All the decisions I took to feel better, be a better person, if it can help my tennis, that's great."
"But I realized tennis is not everything in my life. It's going to be a few more years but I just want to be happy. I feel great with the decisions I took."
"I can tell you it has been very hard times emotionally, a lot of ups and downs. I've been really proud the way I could deal with the situation because at 25 it's not that easy."
"I decided to live by myself, then being in contact with my family, it's the best decision I took. It's just a great feeling."
"Life is short and I want to enjoy every moment of it. That's what I really realized in the last few months."
Henin rekindled her family relationship in March after having been estranged since age 17, part of a tragic history that included sister Florence's death in a car accident and her mother Francoise's death from cancer when Henin was 12.
"Especially with my family back in my life there is a lot of love. That's good. I know they're behind me now for the rest of my life. That's a great feeling," Henin said.
"It makes me feel a better person and that's the most important thing because it's going to be my whole life," Henin said.
"With my family back, I can tell you it's a lot. It's just a great feeling. There's a lot of love. That gives me a lot of confidence for the rest of my life, not only for my career."
The confidence has translated into success on the court. Henin has won six of 10 prior events this year, including her third French Open title in a row and fourth overall to go with 2003 US Open and 2004 Australian Open crowns.
At times, the tennis court has allowed Henin to escape the heartache. At times, it lets her express the joy in her heart.
"It's the place where I feel great," Henin said. "I was probably born to do that. I've learned a lot of things with my career about me - what I want, the person I want to become. It really helped me to grow up very quickly too."
"It's 20 years I've played tennis - a lot of sacrifices, but the best thing is just the emotions that it gave me and the emotions I could give to people I love and to my fans. Very, very emotional. Very lucky to do that."
Serena Williams said Henin made lucky shots to defeat her in a quarterfinal but Henin knows she has proved luck has had nothing to do with her success.
"I've started to trust myself much more than in the past because it hasn't been luck for me. It's just that I've proved so many things. I don't have anything to prove except enjoy my tennis on the court and try to stay healthy."
Henin hopes to collect another Slam title on Saturday, but win or lose she will appreciate the journey.
"I'm confident," Henin said. "It doesn't mean I will go to the end now, but I really had a lot of fun and that's really important."
First Published: Sep 06, 2007 21:39 IST