The story appears on

Page A13

September 24, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Sports » Tennis

Henin looks to serve in style

A NEW Justine Henin has returned - more mature, composed and with a broader view on life - and she now plans on showing off a new, fearsome serve by the time she hits the courts again before the Australian Open in January.

With a slight frame of 1.67 meters and 57 kilograms, the Belgian will never be one to slam power aces. But accuracy and consistency on her first serve had also often let her down in the past. After her 16-month retirement turned into a comeback on Tuesday, she is specifically looking to improve the one shot every player controls from the first toss up.

In the past, Henin even used to snicker at her average results on her serve compared to, say, her whipped backhand that became a classic during the first stage of the career of the seven-time grand slam winner.

Her service, though, has always been hard work.

"I continued to work on my serve, even when I was No. 1," Henin said. "We said that perhaps, one day, we will get there: to get 65 or 70 percent of first serves. I am not 1.85 meters, so technically it has to be perfect."

Now, at 27 and with more than three months before her first competitive match, she finally has time to start from scratch. "Justine is convinced we can reconstruct her serve. We have time," coach Carlos Rodriguez said.

A powerful serve is especially essential to dominate on the grass of Wimbledon, and she has made the only grand slam event she is yet to win a key target of her comeback.

Gaining power will not overwhelm every other part of Henin's game, despite her weight workouts.

"The balance between things is what makes Justine what she is - power, explosiveness, endurance, coordination, intuitiveness," Rodriguez said.

That balance also applies to her personal life. Henin said the break has given her more confidence to become a leader, given her independence and provided a broader look at life in which tennis does not necessarily have to hem her in.

Henin again will clash with fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open earlier this month only three tournaments into her comeback.

Their rivalry

"It is a source of inspiration and motivation. I have come to realize that I would not have been this strong if she had not been there at the time," Henin said of their rivalry that stretches back a dozen years.

Compared to Henin's seven grand slam titles, Clijsters has two. "Justine's comeback is extremely good news for women's tennis, but even better for Belgium in general," Clijsters said in a statement.

Henin wants to play at least until the 2012 London Olympics when she will be 30. By then, she hopes to have won Wimbledon - the only grand slam title missing on her resume that contains four French Open titles, two US Opens and one Australian Open championship.

She already won singles gold at the Athens Games in 2004.

She wants to play two exhibition tournaments, in Charleroi, Belgium, and Dubai to hone her skills ahead of a competitive return at the Australian Open.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend