Tennis: Henin forced to call time
She returned to tennis dreaming of Wimbledon glory and emulating Roger Federer, but Justine Henin yesterday laid down her racquet for good with those targets still unfulfilled.
Little over a year after she ended her brief period in retirement, the supremely talented Belgian has been forced to quit for a second time because of an elbow injury she first sustained at Wimbledon last summer.
Henin took the rest of the season off and the signs were good when she returned to action earlier this month at the Hopman Cup.
But, following her third-round Australian Open exit to Svetlana Kuznetsova, she underwent further tests that confirmed the elbow is too weak to stand the constant rigours of professional tennis.
"In these recent months, I have rarely been spared from the pain; those last months were very hard. Time has passed, and the doubts have grown," she said.
"I suffered a lot the last week and every day gave me more and more pain, but I believed that my will would take the upper hand.
"Today, the examinations are clear and the doctors formally said my elbow is too fragile and hurt, so my passion and my profession at a high level cannot continue to exist.
"I'm in shock, of course. Even with the work of these past seven months, I had to understand that there might be a reason for all this.
"Having considered and followed the advice of doctors, it is now clear and I accept that my career here... finally ends."