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September 23, 2009

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Henin poised for comeback

FORMER world No. 1 Justine Henin is poised to announce her comeback to professional tennis 16 months after she retired, Belgian media reported yesterday.

"Justine Henin's Yes" read the headline on La Derniere Heure's Website late on Monday, while Le Soir said "Henin should announce her return."

Henin, 27, will make the announcement on the evening news shows of French-language stations RTBF and RTL in Belgium, a number of newspapers reported.

The Belgian, who retired in May 2008 at the age of 25 saying she no longer had any passion for the game, had been scheduled to play exhibitions in Dubai and Belgium in November and December.

Speculation has grown that Henin was considering a competitive comeback with Belgian media reporting she had increased her training and recently ordered 14 tennis rackets.

Henin herself has also softened her stance about a return from a repeatedly firm "no".

The seven-time grand slam winner has also witnessed the return of compatriot Kim Clijsters, who won the US Open a week ago after just a month back on the professional circuit.

Clijsters beat both Venus and Serena Williams on the way to the final after 2? years in retirement.

After her compatriot's victory in New York, Henin praised her performance on her Website.

"What you have come to achieve there is incredible," wrote Henin. "I very warmly congratulate you on your magnificent victory."

Henin, who won 41 titles after turning professional in 1999, was credited with owning the best backhand in the sport and also bucked a trend towards a power game by taller and stronger women with her slight 1.67 meter frame.

She won the French Open four times, the US Open twice, the Australian Open once and an Olympic gold in 2004, but failed to win Wimbledon.

As recently as May, she complained that the sport had left her with so many physical ailments a return was unthinkable.

Over the past month Henin, a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, has refused to comment on plans for a possible return but has begun training again.


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