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Is Henin gearing up for a 2010 return?

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:41

In the wake of Kim Clijsters return to the WTA Tour, the French and Belgian press are reporting that her compatriot and fellow former world No.1 Justine Henin may be considering a return to competitive action next year.

In May 2008, days before she was set to launch the defence of her French Open crown for a third successive year, a 25-year-old Henin stunned the tennis world by announcing her immediate retirement from tennis. It was the first time that the women’s world No.1 had walked away from the game at the top.

But now, having agreed to play in two exhibition matches in December, Henin could be contemplating a tour comeback.

“I can not say that I will never return because I hate to say ‘never’…”

The rumour began when Elke Van Dongen-Rodriguez, the wife of Henin’s former coach Carlos Rodriguez, said about the possibility of a return following the exhibition shows in Charleroi and Dubai: “There are some things being prepared, but I’m not allowed to speak about it”.

Her spokesman has insisted that Henin is only practicing to prepare for the exhibitions, having had knee surgery in the past year. But reports from the sports pages in France and Belgium are convinced that the seven-time grand slam champion is looking beyond a couple of guest appearances.

“After the exhibition games that will end the year in Belgium and Dubai, [Henin] has decided to return to competitive action from January,” according to reports in French newspaper Vers l’Avenir.

Since her retirement last May, Henin has established a tennis academy with Rodriguez and appeared in a number of television shows in Belgium. She had claimed 41 titles, including 7 grand slams. Having “given everything and had every experience” after nearly ten years on tour, she asked for her ranking to be removed with immediate effect.

But months later the Belgian admitted she could entirely rule out a return to the tour. “I can not say that I will never return because I hate to say ‘never’,” she told reporters. “But when I do something, I’m 200%, and when I decide it’s over, it’s really finished.”

Eight players have held the No.1 spot in the fifteen months that have passed, with Dinara Safina – the last player to face Henin prior to her retirement – currently on top.

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