Comparing the WTA to the ATP is called farfetched. Comparing the ATP to the WTA is called insulting. However, few fans of either disciple can dispute the similarities between 2011 Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova and Juan Martin Del Potro, winner of the 2009 US Open.
Both juxtapose lethal games with breathtaking power against soft-spoken demeanors and “gentle giant” reputations. Both have amazed spectators with their shared ability to play unbeatable tennis and end points at will with thudding winners. Both shocked the tennis world with ruthlessly won Slam titles that seemed less like blips and more like the starts of dynasties.
Yet despite all of their talent and proven potential, both have found it difficult to back up their big wins and to challenge the game’s best (or more consistent?) players. By all accounts, Kvitova had a solid 2012 that featured two Slam semifinals and wins atop her nemesis, the North American hard court. But it was far from the dominating display that her ’11 Year-End Championships win seemed to foreshadow. Various injuries kept her from top condition. Her confidence has taken an undoubted hit as she starts 2013 with early losses to Laura Robson and Kristina Mladenovic who, with equally fearless games, are arguably younger versions of herself.
Where the Czech’s form has ebbed and flowed, the ATP’s top Argentine suffered a traumatic wrist injury a mere months after his US Open triumph. Sidelined for nearly an entire season, Del Potro has struggled to rebuild his career in the last two years. While he has made steady improvement, even capturing the Bronze medal at the London Olympics, he too has dealt with bouts of erratic form. In his first major outing of 2013, he crushed his first two opponents only to lose his way against Jeremy Chardy in the third round.
Still, it cannot be denied that, on any given day, either player could dig out of these patches of poorer form and go on a run at a Grand Slam tournament. Such a run would be considered as jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring as their first victories.
Such is the characterization of “Peak Pierce” Syndrome.
The notion of “Peak Pierce” is brought up in online tennis circles as a half-meme, half-miracle-of-nature. Centered around French superstar, Mary Pierce, a “Peak Pierce” performance is one of sheer dominance, a brilliantly effortless display of power. An undeniable talent, Pierce’s career lasted nearly twenty seasons. Of those twenty, she made Grand Slam finals in four of them: 1994, 1995, 2000 and 2005. Such winless stretches are unheard of in today’s game; for Mary, it mattered neither her age nor the players against whom she competed. When she was playing “Peak Pierce” tennis, the Frenchwoman could dominate the sport in the way we were coming to expect Kvitova and Del Potro to do.
But Mary Pierce is one of the sport’s greatest tragedies. Subjected to an abusive father, Pierce will be remembered as much for “The Jim Pierce Rule,” the first WTA legislation against out of control tennis parents, as for her dominating performances and inspiring perseverance. Her tortured past is looked on by many as the reason why she is among a small group of Slam champions to retire with only two (the majority of Slam Champions have either one or more than three).
Perhaps the examples of Del Potro and Kvitova provide evidence that they, along with Pierce, are simply too talented to be consistent. An oxymoronic concept, to be sure, but few can argue that when these three are playing their best tennis, they are among the best in the game. We have seen each of these players post dazzling statistics, and seen them hit incredible winners. How could anyone be expected to maintain such superhuman form?
Whether a fan values combustible brilliance or dependable consistency depends on what players that fan prefers, but the real issue is whether we, as fans or pundits, can feel right about criticizing these streaky players, belittling their accomplishments by calling them “underachievers.” Of course, it would be great if Mary could have “Peak Pierce’d” into a Golden Slam, if Petra had taken the #1 ranking that seemed all but assured 12 months ago, or if Juan Martin could have taken out Federer at the Olympics to compete for a Gold medal.
Their lows are surprising, frustrating, and even sometimes comical when they fail to find the court. But there are few things for which I would trade the memory of Petra Kvitova demolishing the field to capture the Wimbledon title, of Juan Martin Del Potro handing Roger Federer his first US Open loss after going undefeated in Flushing for five years, of Mary Pierce saving her best tennis for the end of her career and reaching two Slam finals in the process.
These highs, in my opinion, make everything, even “Peak Pierce” Syndrome, worth it.
By Lisa-Marie Burrows
Kim Clijsters has enjoyed an illustrious career in tennis – dampened by injuries, but nonetheless, she has enjoyed many successes on the court. She is a firm fan favourite, always enthusiastically supported wherever she competes and is popular with her fellow players. Could an Olympic victory tempt her to decide not to halt her career just yet, or could it be the perfect way for the former world No.1 to bow out of competitive tennis for the second time?
Kim Clijsters is a four-time Grand Slam champion, who made her final Wimbledon appearance in July after 14 years of competing as a junior and a senior at the event. This week she is back on the grass courts of the Olympics, representing Belgium and hoping to add an Olympic medal to her list of achievements and victories.
Clijsters admitted earlier this year that she is retiring for the second time due to her age and not for family reasons:
“I have no regrets. I’m too old to play the game that I want to play physically. It’s not for family reasons; it’s down to the physical side. I’ve put my body through enough strain and everything.”
It has been a tough 2012 for the 29-year-old, who missed the French Open due to a hip injury and battled to recover from an abdominal injury in time for Wimbledon, but this week she is proving that she is beginning to find her feet at the All England Lawn Tennis Club and would love to build on her semi-final appearances in 2003 and 2006.
Many would love to see her win an Olympic medal – a fitting way to remember her final year on Tour, to add her to many wonderful achievements during her career – and here are a few of those many moments she will undoubtedly cherish:
Winning her first Grand Slam title in 2005: Kim Clijsters won her first Grand Slam title in 2005 on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows in New York against Mary Pierce. This was the first time she had won a Grand Slam and it was her first appearance in a Grand Slam final since missing out on the trophy in 2004 in Australia. Clijsters had a difficult year in 2004 and was happy to have recovered so well after her operation to remove a cyst from left wrist, which saw her miss Wimbledon and the US Open the previous year.
Back-to-back US Open titles in 2009 and 2010: Clijsters has always felt very comfortable on the hard courts and in New York she found her feet and showed her best tennis during a year which proved to be a sensational comeback season for the Belgian. Clijsters won the US Open in New York in extraordinary fashion – she had only played three previous hard court events before entering the Grand Slam and participated as an unranked wildcard defeating Caroline Wozniacki in the final.
In 2010 Clijsters battled against a left and right foot injury, which forced her to withdraw from Roland Garros, but in August whilst fighting off her injury demons, the former world No.1 lifted the trophy at Flushing Meadows for the third time after defeating Vera Zvonareva in the final.
‘Aussie Kim’ happy to be crowned champion at the Australian Open: Kim Clijsters has always been fondly welcomed at the Australian Open and many of the Aussies accepted her as one of their own after her long relationship with Australian tennis player Lleyton Hewitt. She reached the finals in 2004 but was unable to lift the trophy, but after returning to competitive tennis once again, she finally got the Grand Slam win she so desperately seeked in Melbourne and ‘Aussie Kim’ was happily crowned champion.
After this year when Kim Clijsters eventually retires, it will be a sad day for her supporters, team and fellow players as her kind and sporting nature on and off the court will be missed. Right now though for Kim Clijsters, she will not be thinking about putting down her racquet for the last time, she will be completely focused on picking it up again tomorrow to continue her assault on the Olympics and the impending, final hard court season ahead.
After a resurgent 2011, German beauty Sabine Lisicki is sitting pretty in the WTA Tour rankings at a career-high number 13. I had the opportunity to sit down with Sabine at the Sony Ericsson Open and chat about her most memorable moments on court, Roger Federer, legends she has hit with, and the three famous people she would most want to have dinner with.
During the course of the interview, Lisicki could not have been more gracious and involved in the questions, laughing and/or giggling a total of eleven times. I would bet that her and Ana Ivanovic could compete in a “giggle-off” and see who the nicest WTA player is – it would be a tough call! But alas, I digress. On to the questions and get ready for some laughs!
What is your most memorable moment on court?
There are several. Obviously, my first grand slam in Australia [in 2008]. But from last year, a very emotional moment was winning the title in Birmingham and beating Na Li at Wimbledon, on center court, with a full house. That meant a lot to me, especially after coming back from an injury.
If you weren’t a tennis player, what would you be?
(Laughs) I hate that question! (Laughs) I honestly don’t know, because tennis was always what I loved and what I always wanted to do and I feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to do what I love.
Do you have any hobbies on the side that you enjoy?
There are things that I might do after tennis, because I’m interested in design/fashion, but also in the human body, so some medicine-type of thing, because we go through so many health issues and we learn a lot about our body and I’m just curious to learn more, so I’ll see which direction I’ll go. The human body is veryinteresting, so you can always discover more.
If you could play against any player in history, who would it be and why?
(Long pause) The ones I would love to play against, I’ve practiced with them already! (Laughs)
Is this like Steffi Graf?
Steffi and Andre, I’ve played with both and I’ve practiced with Mary Pierce and Martina Hingis, so all the idols. I would love to hit with Roger [Federer] one day.
What are two things that you couldn’t live without?
Friends and family.
If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
Living or dead? (Laughs) Ok, a fun one, Brad Pitt. (Laughs) An interesting one would be the pilot who landed the plane on the Hudson River. I would love to hear from him what he thought in those moments, because he was so under pressure having so many passengers and landing the plane. And the third one, Drew Brees (NFL Quarterback).
Follow professional tennis photographer Rick Gleijm as he covers the Open GDF Suez WTA Tour event in Paris this week. The gallery below includes the draw ceremony that features Amelie Mauresmo, Marion Bartoli and Mary Pierce, as well as day two qualifying matches featuring Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Julie Coin, Marta Domachowska, Varvara Lepchenko, Mona Barthel, and Naomi Broady among others. For full qualification results, go here.
Also make sure to check out Rick’s feature “Paris Tennis Diary: From the Photo Pit.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – New Chapter Press has announced the publication of its latest book – On This Day In Tennis History -a calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis through the years – written by Randy Walker, the sports marketing and media specialist, tennis historian and former U.S. Tennis Association press officer.
On This Day In Tennis History ($19.95, 528 pages), is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as John McEnroe, Don Budge, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. On This Day In Tennis History is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. More information on the book can be found at www.tennishistorybook.com
Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “On This Day In Tennis History is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important-and unusual-moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way-dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “On This Day In Tennis History is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest-and most quirky-moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”
Walker is a writer, tennis historian and freelance publicist and sports marketer. A 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s Marketing and Communications Division, he served as the press officer for the U.S. Davis Cup team from 1997 to 2005 and for the U.S. Olympic tennis teams in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He also served as the long-time editor of the U.S. Open Record Book during his tenure at the USTA from 1993 to 2005.
More information on the book can be found at www.tennistomes.com as well as on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1627089030&ref=name and on myspace at http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=428100548
People mentioned in the book include, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Goran Ivanisevic, Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova, Justine Henin, Kim Clijsters, Amelie Mauresmo, Anna Kounikova, Jennifer Capriati, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Martina Hingis, Gustavo Kuerten, Svetlana Kuznetsova, James Blake, Wilmer Allison, Mal Anderson, Arthur Ashe, Juliette Atkinson, Henry “Bunny” Austin, Tracy Austin, Boris Becker, Kark Behr, Pauline Betz, Bjorn Borg, Jean Borotra, John Bromwich, Norman Brookes, Louise Brough, Jacques Brugnon, Butch Buchholz, Don Budge, Maria Bueno, Rosie Casals, Michael Chang, Philippe Chatrier, Dodo Cheney, Henri Cochet, Maureen Connolly, Jimmy Connors, Jim Courier, Ashley Cooper, Margaret Court, Jack Crawford, Allison Danzig, Dwight Davis, Lottie Dod, John Doeg, Laurence Doherty, Reggie Doherty, Dorothea Douglass Lambert Chambers, Jaroslav Drobny, Margaret duPont, Francoise Durr, James Dwight, Stefan Edberg, Roy Emerson, Chis Evert, Bob Falkenburg, Neale Fraser, Shirley Fry, Althea Gibson, Pancho Gonzalez, Evonne Goolagong, Arthur Gore, Steffi Graf, Bitsy Grant, Darlene Hard, Doris Hart, Anne Jones, Gladys Heldman, Slew Hester, Bob Hewitt, Lew Hoad, Harry Hopman, Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, Joe Hunt, Frank Hunter, Helen Jacobs, Bill Johnston, Perry Jones, Bob Kelleher, Billie Jean King, Jan Kodes, Karel Kozeluh, Jack Kramer, Rene Lacoste, Bill Larned, Art Larsen, Rod Laver, Ivan Lendl, Suzanne Lenglen, George Lott, Gene Mako, Molla Mallory, Hana Mandlikova, Alice Marble, Dan Maskell, Simone Mathieu, Mark McCormack, John McEnroe, Ken McGregor, Kitty Godfree, Chuck McKinley, Maurice McLoughlin, Frew McMillian, Don McNeill, Elisabeth Moore, Angela Mortimer, Gardnar Mulloy, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, John Newcombe, Yannick Noah, Jana Novotna, Betty Nuthall, Alex Olmedo, Rafael Osuna, Frank Parker, Gerald Patterson, Budge Patty, Fred Perry, Nicola Pietrangeli, Adrian Quist, Patrick Rafter, Dennis Ralson, Vinnie Richards, Nancy Richey, Cliff Richey, Bobby Riggs, Tony Roche, Mervyn Rose, Ken Rosewall, Elizbeth Ryan, Gabriela Sabatini, Pete Sampras, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Manuel Santana, Dick Savitt, Ted Schroeder, Gene Scott, Richard Sears, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Segura, Vic Seixas, Frank Shields, Pam Shriver, Stan Smith, Fred Stolle, Bill Talbert, Bill Tilden, Tony Trabert, Lesley Turner, Jimmy Van Alen, John Van Ryn, Guillermo Vilas, Ellsworth Vines, Brian Gottfried, Virginia Wade, Holcombe Ward, Watson Washburn, Mal Whitman, Mats Wilander, Tony Wilding, Helen Wills Moody, Sidney Wood, Robert Wrenn, Bob Bryan, Mike Bryan, Todd Woodbridge, Marat Safin, Leslie Allen, Sue Barker, Jonas Bjorkman, Mahesh Bhupathi, Donald Dell, Albert Costa, Mark Cox, Owen Davidson, Pat Cash, Mary Carillo, John Isner, Roscoe Tanner, Vijay Amritraj, Mark Woodforde, Tim Henman, Richard Krajicek, Conchita Martinez, Mary Joe Fernandez, Cliff Drysdale, Mark Edmondson, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Zina Garrson, Roland Garros, Wojtek Fibak, Tom Gullikson, Andres Gimeno, Vitas Gerulaitis, Fernando Gonzalez, Tim Henman, Goran Ivanisevic, Andrea Jaeger, Ivo Karlovic, Richard Krajicek, Petr Korda, Luke Jensen, Murphy Jensen, Rick Leach, Iva Majoil, Barry MacKay, Ivan Ljubicic, Cecil Mamiit, David Caldwell, Alex Metreveli, Nicolas Massu, Todd Martin, Gene Mayer, Thomas Muster, Tom Okker, Charlie Pasarell, Mary Pierce, Whitney Reed, Leander Paes, Renee Richards, Helen Sukova, Michael Stich, Betty Stove, Ion Tiriac, Brian Teacher, Wendy Turnbull, Richards, Fabrice Santoro, Ai Sugiyama, Patrick McEnroe, Camille Pin, Phil Dent, Jelena Dokic, Mark Edmondson, Gael Monfils, Xavier Malisse, Dinara Safina, Barry Lorge, Stefano Pescosolido, Fabrice Santoro, Roscoe Tanner, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Roger Smith, Erik van Dillen, Gene Mayer, Tamara Pasek, Stefan Koubek, Jie Zheng, Gisela Dulko, Kristian Pless, Chuck McKinley, Marty Riessen, Brad Gilbert, Tim Mayotte, Andrea Petkovic, Klara Koukalova, Bobby Reynolds, Dominik Hrbaty, Andreas Seppi, Christopher Clarey, Casey Dellacqua, Anders Jarryd, Janko Tipsarevic, Nadia Petrova, Christian Bergstrom, Ramesh Krishnan, Emily Sanchez, Marcos Baghdatis, Mark Philippousssis, Wally Masur, Paul McNamee, Daniela Hantuchova, Gerry Armstrong, Younes El Aynaoui, Thomas Johansson, Pat Cash, Lisa Raymond, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Chanda Rubin, Tony Roche, Alex O’Brien, Petr Korda, Karol Kucera, Amelie Mauresmo, Juan Gisbert, Pablo Cuevas, Jim Pugh, Rick Leach, Julien Boutter, Larry Stefanki, Chris Woodruff, Jill Craybas, Sania Mirza, Mike Leach, Maggie Maleeva, Guillermo Canas, Guillermo Coria, Donald Young, Dick Stockton, Johan Kriek, Milan Srejber, Zina Garrison, Slyvia Hanika, Karin Knapp, Laura Granville, Kei Nishikori, Scott Davis, Paul Goldstein, Alberto Martin, Nicolas Kiefer, Joachim Johansson, Jonathan Stark, Jakob Hlasek, Jeff Tarango, Amanda Coetzer, Andres Gomez, Richey Reneberg, Francisco Clavet, Radek Stepanek, Miloslav Mecir, Jose-Luis Clerc, Colin Dibley, Mikael Pernfors, Martin Mulligan, Robbie Weiss, Hugo Chapacu, Victor Pecci, Charlie Bricker, Greg Rusedski, Robin Finn, Kimiko Date, David Nalbandian, Goran Ivanisevic, Mikhail Youzhny, Nicole Pratt, Bryanne Stewart, Novak Djokovic, Rennae Stubbs, Corina Morariu, Marc Rosset, Kenneth Carlsen, Kimiko Date, Ryan Harrison, Richard Gasquet, Jimmy Arias, Jim Leohr, Felix Mantilla, Cedric Pioline, Annabel Croft, Brooke Shields, Jaime Yzaga, Slobodan Zivojinovic, Alberto Mancini, Peter McNamara, Andrei Chesnokov, Fabrice Santoro, Bud Collins, Mardy Fish, Sebastien Grosjean, Donald Dell, Petr Kuczak, Magnus Norman, Hicham Arazi, Nduka Odizor, Lori McNeil, Horst Skoff, Karolina Sprem, Ros Fairbank, Linda Siegel, Chris Lewis, Kevin Curren, Thierry Tulasne, Guy Forget, Fred Tupper, Jaime Fillol, Belus Prajoux, Ricardo Cano, Georges Goven, Ray Moore, Charlie Pasarell, Paul Annacone, Tomas Smid, Dmitry Tursunov, Elena Dementieva, Arnaud DiPasquale, Carl Uwe Steeb, Bill Scanlon, Jose Higueras, Jay Berger, Jana Novotna, Bill Dwyre, Lisa Dillman, Sean Sorensen, Paul McNamee, Jiri Novak, Benjamin Becker, Ion Tiriac, Neil Amdur, Tim Gullikson, Jan-Michael Gambill, Taylor Dent, Bryan Shelton, Vijay Amritraj, Martin Verkerk, Brian Gottfried, Carlos Moya, Jacco Eltingh, Adriano Panatta, John Feinstein, Aaron Krickstein, Wilhelm Bungert, Derrick Rostagno, Torben Ulrich, Daniel Nestor, Ray Ruffels, Cliff Drysdale, James Reilly, Andy Murray, Leander Paes, Alicia Molik, Barry MacKay among others.
New Chapter Press is also the publisher of The Bud Colins History of Tennis by Bud Collins, The Roger Federer Story, Quest for Perfection by Rene Stauffer and Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli and the soon to be released title The Lennon Prophecy by Joe Niezgoda. Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press is an independent publisher of books and part of the Independent Publishers Group. More information can be found at www.newchapterpressmedia.com
Here we are with another weekly dose of weekly links. Back from not being far away from my desk for the past few hours.
First of all an announcement:
I have been receiving mails lately from people asking me if I want exchange links with them. I am always open to suggestions but I do have a set of criteria.
First of all, your site has to be up for at least one year. Your site has to be regularly updated. I don’t want to link to dead sites. And last but nevertheless very important: Quality writing.
If your site meets the criteria then feel free to contact me by either using the comment system (no registration required) or leave me a note using our “Contact Us” form.
End of announcement
So with the message out of the way we can move on with the links. This week we have a few special photos from the Rogers Cup.
Mary Pierce has withdrawn from the Olympics with a knee injury. No offense but she shouldn’t have been selected in the first place. It’s been too long that she played and playing at the Olympics should really be someone who is fit, has match practice and actually played well in the past two years! (New York Post)
Another two bite the dust. Frantisek Cermak and Michal Mertinak have been suspended for gambling on matches. (World News Australia)
Boris Becker speaks. And when he speaks we all listen to Boom Boom Becker. He is of the opinion that Rafael Nadal is the real No. 1 and not Federer. I am not sure if I agree. Sure Nadal won that epic Wimbledon final and the French Open in a month but let’s see if Nadal can win Wimby in the next few years. Just don’t write off Fed because he has an off season. (Toronto Star)
At least Iestyn Stevens from Sportingo agrees with me (Sportingo)
Roger Federer is in Toronto and motivated again. Funny how he didn’t read anything about the most epic final of the Open Era. (National Post)
Chris Evert publicly admits that her love affair with Greg Norman was behind the demise of their marriages. That’s just freaky! (News.com.Au)
Sorry boys and girls but Jelena Jankovic has a boyfriend. (Women’s Tennis Blog)
Aaress from On the Baseline has put up her favorite memories of the Olympics. What are yours? Comment below (On the Baseline)
Safin and Safina will make a great team at the Hopman Cup 2009 (The Age)
Monica Seles got interviewed by Indietennis (IndieTennis)
Of course the biggest news this week was the Ashley Harkleroad Playboy issue. Don’t worry, this link IS suitable for work (TennisGrandstand)
Photos by Bob McIntyre.
Perhaps inspired by the success of comeback by tennis mom Lindsay Davenport, 2005 U.S. Open champion and former world No. 1 Kim Clijsters is reportedly training in Belgium and considering a comeback on the WTA Tour. According to media sources in Belgium, Clijsters is considering a comeback – training in secret and may announce that she will again play on the WTA Tour. Clijsters retired from professional tennis last spring and shortly thereafter married American Brian Lynch. On February 27 of this year, she gave birth to daughter Jada Ellie Lynch. Davenport, another former world No. 1, returned to the WTA Tour last fall after giving birth to a son, Jagger, on June 10, 2007.
Clijsters won 34 WTA Tour singles titles, including the 2005 US Open (her only major singles title), where she beat Mary Pierce in the final. Her win at the US Open earned her a record payday of $2.2 million by the USTA (double the prize money of $1.1 million) by virtue of her also winning the US Open Series – the series of U.S. hard court tournaments leading into the US Open.
Belgian tennis took a major hit with the recent retirement this spring of Justine Henin.
After Wednesday’s sudden retirement press conference, TennisGrandstand.com gives you a look at the career of Justine Henin – as compiled by Bud Collins in his new book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS in this exclusive excerpt. If you are interested in pre-ordering the book, click HERE to pre-order at a 39 percent off pre-sale price.
There’s not much there, as far as physique goes, but within that 5-foot-5, 126 pound frame churns a highly competitive heart and the flair of an artist who plays the game with superlative grace and style. Flitting across the court quickly, nimbly, Justine Henin is a model of complete greatness, at home anywhere in the rectangle, baseline or net.
A right-hander with a stunning one-handed backhand drive, she grasped No. 1 for a year (2003), then returned for 2006-07, and will be very difficult to unseat as she gains momentum.
A brilliant 2007 contained nine titles – among them a fourth French, second U.S. – and new zest based on heightened happiness in her personal life. Reconnecting with her family after a period of estrangement, and unconnecting with husband Pierre-Yves Hardenne (as Henin-Hardenne she won five of her seven majors), gave Justine an emotional lift. Her dash to the 2007 U.S. title was particularly satisfying since she had to erase the Williams family in succession, Serena in the quarterfinals, 7-6 (7-3), 6-1, and Venus in the semifinals, 7-6 (7-2), 6-4, before a 6-1, 6-3, crushing of Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, her 6-4, 6-4, victim in the 2006 French final.
Born June 1, 1982, Liege, Belgium, she turned pro 1999, coached by Carlos Rodriguez throughout. She played Federation Cup for six years, 1999 – 03, 06, played 11 ties with a 15-3 singles, 0-2 doubles record. She helped win Cup for Belgium in 2001 and reach a final in 2006. She won the 2004 Olympic singles gold, defeating Amelie Mauresmo 6-3, 6-3.
She won seven major singles titles – Australian, 2004, defeating countrywomen Kim Clijsters, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3; French, 2003, defeating Clijsters again, 6-0, 6-4; 2005, defeating Mary Pierce of France, 6-1, 6-1; 2006, defeating Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, 6-4, 6-4; 2007, defeating Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, 6-1, 6-2; U.S., 2003, defeating Clijsters, 7-5, 6-1; 2007, defeating Kuznetsova, 6-1, 6-3. She lost four major singles finals: Australian, 2006, to Amelie Mauresmo of France, 6-1, 2-0, ret; Wimbledon, 2001, to Venus Williams of the United States, 6-1, 3-6, 6-0; 2006, to Mauresmo, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4; U.S., 2006, to Maria Sharapova of Russia, 6-4, 6-4.
Henin also made the semifinals of the Australian, 2003, French, 2001, Wimbledon, 2002-03, 07; the quarterfinals of the Australian, 2002 and 2008. From 2001, she has spent seven straight years in the Top 10: Nos. 7, 5, 1, 8, 6, 1, 1.
She has overcome numerous injuries and illnesses, and the negative publicity that accompanied her quitting the 2006 Australian final to Mauresmo, behind, 6-1, 2-0, claiming a stomach ache. But she showed her spunk during the 2003 U.S. Open. Somehow she beat Jennifer Capriati, 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) in the semifinals in 3:03 (ending 12:27AM Saturday morning), even though Capriati was two points from victory 11 times, and served for it at 5-3 in the 2nd and 3rd sets. Justine, cramping in the third set, needed IV attention following the match. Yet later in the day took the championship, beating Clijsters, 7-5, 6-1, avoiding two set points at 4-5, 15-40.
As the first to win three straight French since Monica Seles, 1990-92, Justine revels in the Parisian earth, thrilled as a little girl brought to Roland Garros by her mother. She won two season-ending WTA Tour Championships – 2006 defeating Amelie Mauresmo 6-4, 6-3; 2007 defeating Maria Sharapova (3hrs 24min) 5-7, 7-5, 6-3. In 2007, she was the first woman to end a season with more than $5 million in prize money in a season – $5,367,086.
Other prominent singles titles won include the German Open three times – 2002, defeating S. Williams, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 2003, defeating Clijsters, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 2005, defeating Nadia Petrova, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. She also won the Canadian Open in 2003, defeating. Lina Krasnoroutskaya, 6-1, 6-0 and Indian Wells in 2004, defeating Lindsay Davenport, 6-1, 6-4.
During her career, she won 41 singles (489-105 matches), two doubles pro titles. $19,461,375 prize money. She unexpectedly announced her immediate retirement from the game, the first No.1 to do so, on May 14, 2008.