NEWS: Justine Henin’s interview on coaching in tennis (Belgium)
Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Justine Henin started playing tennis when, as a five-year-old, she saw the French Open at Roland-Garros on television. With her game ideally suited for clay, she went on to win four titles there, three of them back-to-back (2003, 2005-07). Considered to have one of the best single-handed backhands ever in the game, injuries forced Henin to quit in 2011 while she was still among the best.
The former world No.1, who now runs her own tennis academy in Belgium and a foundation dedicated to the medical needs of children, was in Delhi for the Roland Garros Junior Wild Card series, held from 29 April-1 May.
Who are the favourites to win this year’s French Open?
The women’s tennis tour is very open at the moment. I am a fan of Simona Halep. We have some commonality—she is not tall or the most impressive, but she works hard to play well on clay. It will be interesting to see how she defends her first Grand Slam title. Every tournament (Grand Slam) was won by a different player last year. The women’s game needs a lot of concurrence at the top.
You have a great record at Roland-Garros. What does it take to win there?
It’s difficult to win there because clay is demanding. You need to be a complete player to win on clay. My education in tennis was on clay. I learnt at a young age how to move, to slide, to use the surface, to use different trajectories, and, also, how to be patient. It has been my biggest weapon on clay—the balance between patience and ability to build the point. I admire Rafa (Nadal)—when you can win it so many times, it means you are strong mentally, physically and smart too.
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