After all the recent speculation, Justine Henin is reportedly set to announce her official return to competitive tennis tomorrow according to two top Belgian newspapers, La Derniere Heure + Le Soir!
Fantastic. This news is interesting on a few different levels for me:
1. What is JuJu's reason for her return now and what is the real reason she retired in the first place? I hope she has a good answer for both, especially the latter. It's still a big mystery to eveyone and I'm hoping it's cleared up tomorrow (though I'm not holding a breath.) Otherwise, she'll be hounded by the media until she gives it up or someone else does.
2. What inspired her return? Was it Kim Clijsters spectacular comeback? Seeing Serena Williams, who JuJu was not afraid to face and would defeat in big matches, dominate at the majors and reach 11 Grand Slam titles (wearing the "Best of Her Generation" sash)? The lack of a dominant lady baller overall on the tour? Or was she simply missing that winning feeling?
3. Aside from the Sisters Sledge and Kimmie, how will it effect the other lady ballers and will we finally see the true level that exists on the tour? The Belgian was living lavishly in the WTA Penthouse at the time she called it quits. And since her departure the "depth" of the WTA tour has come into question with Jelena Jankovic + Dinara Safina moving into the Penthouse without holding a major, and others like Ana Ivanovic + Svetlana Kuznetsova winning Grand Slams only to watch their "A" games go MIA.
4. Why return now, in the fall, and not during the clay-court season? JuJu dominated Roland Garros and was the best clay-courter of her generation so I'm surprised she'd pick the indoor season to make her return. What gives?
5. Why make coach Carlos Rodriguez shed tears in her retirement presser only to return 16 months later? I don't mind seeing grown men cry but that's just mean.
UPDATE: It looks like she'll announce her return for 2010 according to TENNIS' Tom Perrotta. I still say why not the clay-court season? Too much time lost perhaps??
UPDATE #2: Here's the official rule for returning to competition after a retirement:
Before a player who had retired (and was not suspended) may return to competition, the player must notify the ITF in writing and be available for testing for three (3) months.So that puts us at 2010.
UPDATE #3: IT'S OFFICIAL! Here's some of what JuJu said today about her return...
"I want to come back in January."Carlos Rodriguez will return as coach and said,
"Subconsciously [Kim Clijster's successful return] might have had an impact but it certainly was not the most important reason."
"The last 15 months I've been able to recharge the batteries, emotionally as well."
"I'm very happy to be helping her to restart her new life. It's a super challenge for her. The desire to win Wimbledon is one of the main reasons she's come back and I'll do everything to help her do it."The WTA has just become THE place to be...at least starting in January. Allez!