Google Down the Line!: (UPDATED) From rumor to reality: JuJu reportedly set to announce return to tennis

Monday, September 21, 2009

(UPDATED) From rumor to reality: JuJu reportedly set to announce return to tennis

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.

Stay tuned!

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."

"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."
Carlos Rodriguez will return as coach and said,
"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 least starting in January. Allez!



  1. If true, GREAT to see her come back. She's probably doing it because she missed you talking about her, and she wants a shot at Rafa. Doesn't everyone? ;)

  2. I'm not a fan. Her original retirement was sketchy to begin with. I think she got bored and Kim's win really made her realize she can come back and win more for kicks. We'll see, but she bores me.

  3. If she announces it tomorrow, will she really come back this year? I thought I read that a baller had to give a few months notice so an announcement this late in the year would result in her coming back at the beginning of 2010? Do you know the specific rule Rich?

    Having said that, I'm currently sooo flippin' excited. I need her one-handed backhand in my life. And I'm so glad we'll have a true dirtballer back in the game.

  4. Why not during the clay court season? Does it matter? If she wants to come back her goal would be to take back the number 1 spot. Unlike Kim, she does not have a daughter or a husband as her main focus. So she would have to play all the majors to acheive that goal as soon as possible. So her game plan is to win Australia and then become seeded in French.

    Unfortunately she is going to meet Serena at first round at AO....

  5. Sara: I just updated with a link to Perrotta's write-up which said it would be for 2010. The rule has more to do anti-doping measures:

    Return to Competition after 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 she needs at least 3 months which puts us at 2010.

  6. Thanks Rich. I think I missed it the first time around. Either way, it's great that she may come back.

  7. Justie Henin's impending to return to competitive tennis will make the WTA Tour more competitive and intriguing. Here's a lady that has gained the respect of players and audience through sheer hardwork, perseverance and dedication.

    When she ascended to the No. 1 ranking nobody questioned her credibility nor her game because that is what put her to that position.

    Her traits and personality is admirable similar to Steffi Graf. Her mental toughness is still unsurpassed by any active player on tour right now.

    Watching her hit the ball with her one handed backhand makes the audience fascinated with her talent. How can a relatively small player produced the most beautiful and powerful backhand in women's tennis.

    There may be a lot of questions as to why she wants to return to competitive tennis but what is important is for her to do what she loves to do - play tennis.

    Her short lived retirement is good for her since it gave her the opportunity to see life outside tennis. If Kim Clijsters feels motivated to play again after marrying and having a daughter, what more for Justine Henin who was able to enjoy life to the fullest.

    I am excited to see her back on tour again. Her presence will definitely give other players extra motivation to work and play hard.

    Go Justine! Allez!

  8. It makes total sense. She's thinking: "What the fuck! I used to kick the shit out of Kimmy on a regular basis (3 of Clijster's 4 grand slam final losses were to Justine). If that weak bitch can win the U.S. Open a month after returning from a three-year absence, I'll win fucking everything!!!"

    Also, I don't know where Richie gets off implying that she lied about her original retirement. She said she was burned out, lost her motivation (which seemed proven by that weird slaughter she had at the hands of Serena), and was just done and looking forward to life in the post-tennis age. Not surprising that she changed her mine - they're like farm animals with tennis bred into them from early on -- but I don't get the skepticism over her explanation. Did you think Kimmie was lying, too?

  9. Kim's win had NOTHING to do with Justine's return. That's a stupid notion. I've read this all over the blogosphere and it's just silly and easily fact checked as false.

    Justine was already training and the rumors of her return were already circulating BEFORE the USO even started and before the second week was underway. Go back and read the Belgian media clippings, the quotes from her dad, the "denials" from Carlos and the "non-denials" from Justine herself. So no Justine DID NOT come back because Kim won.

    If anything Kim's win only delayed her announcement. Justine was apparently going to announce sooner, but delayed the press conference so as not to interfere with Kim's big moment.

  10. according to the newschannels here (belgium) it's for real and she will announce this evening at 7 pm cet live at a french speaking belgian newschannel her comeback.
    i also read that she planned to announce this last week but that she didn't want to take the attention away from kim. (nice, if it's true)

  11. Serena will need to be injured soon or at least feign an injury to find a legitimate reason as to why she cannot win any more slams. Lulz.

  12. I'm just glad to see her back - if it's true (and it sounds like it is). Honestly, I have lost almost all interest in the WTA. Justine's retirement coupled with Sharapova's injury left the women's tour in a state of disarray.

  13. I think a belgium calender year grand slam is in order...

  14. jealousy of Kum Clijsters!!!!!

  15. Why would Justine be jealous of someone who only has 2 slams?

  16. Oh... women...
    And Brett Favre.

  17. And Michael Jordan. And Magic Johnson. And Roger Clemens. And George Foreman. And Floyd Mayweather. And...

    Oh... men...

  18. I've really never liked her: too much Allezing (almost as much as Ana's fist-pumping), that whole ugliness with the hand hold-up at the FO, and the general coldness she exudes.

    She is probably good for tennis though -- I mean, she can hold serve so that's a start.

    I'm sure there are plenty of WTA ballers shaking in their ugly stilettos (that's you Shrieka), and they should be.


  19. I feel like many of the players that are coming back are using the word "retirement" too lightly. Why not use the word "break" when they come back 1-2 years later. It makes me question their passion when they can quit and choose to come back so fast. When athletes or anyone of that matter "retire" it needs to come with the intention of not coming back. It's great to have revived passion and fire but instead of "retiring" why not be honest and say you've been questioning your will for the game and take a break.

  20. She is probably good for tennis though -- I mean, she can hold serve so that's a start.

    LOL Tin!

    anon 3:21 - It does leave Juju vulnerable to a heap of criticism for the reasons you just laid out. Clearly she needed a break, was burnt out, and didn't want the media and sponsors hounding her about a return.

    She says the "retirement" was for real but after the break the fire was re-lit. But isn't that normal? And don't most ballers just deal with the lull, the low motivation and energy and just deal without leaving?

    That being said, this is a good argument for a longer off-season like other sports. They need a longer break than what they're getting now even with the new Road Map. Otherwise "retirements", long absences, sporadic playing, or low effort in smaller tourneys will continue to be the way on tour.

  21. You're right, Carlos' crying now seems really funny! Oops.

  22. Justine is a cheater, we don't need her! [it rhymes]

    (French Open, never forget!!)


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