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Henin granted wildcard for Aussie Open

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:47

Former world No.1 Justine Henin has been granted a wildcard to play in the 2010 Australian Open, tournament organisers announced on Monday.

The 27-year-old Belgian, who won the Australian Open in 2004, ended her retirement last month as she prepares to launch a comeback to the women’s tennis circuit next year.

Carlos Rodriguez, Henin’s coach, said last week that the seven-time grand slam champion is likely to make her return at the Brisbane International on January 3, ahead of the year’s first major which starts on January 18.

“Justine is the ultimate competitor and we look forward to welcoming her back to the Australian Open”

But having requested her ranking to be removed from the WTA computer when she announced her shock retirement last May, Henin will not have a protected ranking when she returns to the Tour and will need wildcard entries or to play qualifiers to reach the main draws.

But just as Kim Clijsters received favour from tournament organisers ahead of her US Open triumph, Henin is likely to be welcomed with wildcards wherever she intends to play.

“I spoke to Justine’s team over the weekend and was happy to grant her request for a wildcard into the Australian Open,” tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement.

“Justine is the ultimate competitor, the winner of seven grand slam titles, and we are looking forward to welcoming her back to the Australian Open.

“I know Justine will not have made the decision to come out of retirement lightly, and have no doubt she will be in great shape and prepared to compete against the world’s best.”

Henin won 41 WTA Tour titles during her career and held the world top ranking for 117 weeks in total. She held the ranking when she retired in May 2008 as she wanted to live life away from the game.

But in her announcement last month, Henin said “the flame has been relit,” after realising that she still had unfinished business with her career, particularly the lack of a Wimbledon title to complete a career golden slam.

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