Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We Told You So...And Double Standards

by Savannah

From the New York Times

September 22, 2009
Henin to Return to Competitive Tennis

Filed at 1:44 p.m. ET

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Former world No. 1 Justine Henin is returning to competitive tennis, making the announcement barely a week after Kim Clijsters capped her comeback from retirement with a second U.S. Open title.

Henin had been retired for just over a year, but at 27 says she has the fire and physical strength to compete for an eighth Grand Slam title. Her announcement on VTM television capped an about-face that went from her ''definitive decision'' to retire last year, to weeks of no comment to a smiling admission Tuesday that she truly missed the game too much.

She wants to play two exhibition tournaments, in Charleroi, Belgium, and Dubai, to hone her skills ahead of a competitive return next year with plans to compete in the next Grand Slam, the Australian Open.

''The fire within burns again,'' Henin said. ''I want to come back in January.''

Henin officially retired on May 14, 2008, initially rejecting any thought of a comeback with a dogged determination that had come to mark her play throughout a decade-long career that yielded seven Grand Slam titles and one Olympic gold medal.

At 27, it certainly is not too late for a comeback. As Clijsters proved, breaking back into the top tier at short notice is far from impossible. She won the U.S. Open in her third tournament since announcing her return.

''Subconsciously, it might have had an impact,'' Henin said of Clijster's successful comeback. ''But it certainly was not the most important reason.''

Like Clijsters, Henin is still in her prime and has been able to rest her body for over a year. Throughout her retirement, during which she became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Henin looked fit enough to immediately step back onto a court.

As recently as May, she complained about the old injuries that still gave her pain in the mornings and the dreaded life of living in a bubble as she was shuttled around the world chasing victories.

''The last 15 months I've been able to recharge the batteries, emotionally as well,'' Henin said.

Henin said coming face to face with the world's misery on UNICEF trips to places like eastern Congo widened her horizons like tennis never could.

Henin has won nearly $20 million in prize money and had been ranked No. 1 for all but seven weeks since Nov. 13, 2006, until her retirement. When she retired after a string of early tournament exits just ahead of Roland Garros, she felt the fire no longer within and gave in.

It was the first time in a life totally centered around her prodigious talent for whipping backhands past hapless competitors. She became the first woman player to retire as No. 1.

Then, suddenly, this summer the craving came back.

Craig and I said from the beginning that Henin's sudden "retirement" was related to something other than "burn out" in the traditional sense. We both always said that she would be back after a certain period of time. And now she's back.

The WTA issued the following statement.


Justine is one of the great champions in the history of women's tennis, and we, along with millions of her fans around the globe, are thrilled with her announcement today. Justine is that rare athlete who decided to step away from the game at the height of her powers, and no doubt she will be a force to be reckoned with from the get go. Her career was marked by so many amazing moments, and a new chapter begins today.

I could go on a rant about why the returns of both Clijsters and Henin have certain elements in tennis overjoyed but I won't because it would just mean rehashing everything that's been said about how TPTB really feel about having those Williams Women universally recognized as the best in the business. Henin has proven herself over the years to be a liar, a cheat and a person who exhibits unsportsmanlike conduct on a consistent basis. She is no different from Dinara Safina in her need for her coach to choreograph her every move on court.

The only thing I will give her is that she never had a cupcake draw handed to her. That is all I concede.

So now they've got what they want. Will Justine cherry pick her tournaments the way Kim has? Will she wait until the end of the year to enter a major or two? All this remains to be seen.

Now excuse me while I go do the "I told you so dance" in the corner.

The Agassi Incident

Just in case you were wondering what it is and why it's caused most of those calling for Serena Williams head to suddenly mute their calls here is an article from 2001 that describes what happened.

...it was flawed by moments when Agassi, who may never have another good chance of winning the title, could not contain his frustration and resentment.

The former champion complained so sulkily about one line decision that a section of the crowd booed him. On another occasion he swore loudly enough to upset a line judge, who came trotting dramatically all the way from her position at the back of the court to tell the umpire, which resulted in Agassi receiving a code violation warning. At the end he launched a ball into the back stop, nearly hitting the line judge who had made the tough call. He was lucky not to suffer further censure for that.

In the press conference the one-time king of glitz was caustic, embittered and almost unable to answer. Was the warning a little unfair? "Yeah, big time. I blame her husband for that," Agassi spat. What did he think about the quality of tennis? "I thought it sucked - really did."

For the entire article please go HERE

And lest we forget the new Belgian sensation Yanina Wickmayer sent a lineswoman to the hospital after throwing a ball at her in anger.

"Yanina displayed "Brat-Like" behavior throughout the tournament. Yanini had 5 code violations. She came close to hitting ball boys on 2 occasions. She launched balls over fences. For her final Code Violation and Disqualification Yanini hit a hard forehand to the back fence striking a defense-less 60 year old woman directly in the face causing a huge bruise. Yanini is dangerous and should seek anger management help."

I hope the ITF comes out with an official statement regarding the default. As Wickmayer was also in the doubles final, she voided the whole final day of play.

This is an eyewitness account that was posted on the fanboard Tennis Forum. Please take time to read the defenders of Wickmayer's actions and note that the ITF did absolutely nothing towards censuring her.

So the next time you hear some sanctimonious bullshit artist talking about "the image the kids will have of tennis" just hand them a nice steaming cup of my favorite joe.


Fred66 said...

Well, Savannah, you and Craig might have been the only ones to say that there was something fishy about Henin's sudden "retirement", but I'm sure plenty of other people thought the same thing privately. They just couldn't say it in public because of legal repercussions. I'll give Henin this much; at least she is stepping up right away in Australia, and not waiting until the end of the season like Clijsters.

bambam said...

I just discovered your site and I LOVE it. Tell it like it is, Savannah! I'm totally out of the loop on Henin. What are the rumors about her "retirement"? Possible steriod/drug offense?

Savannah said...

Welcome bambam.

I'm sure what you say is true Fred66. All of a sudden people are saying it all over the place.

sG said...

Thank you, Savannah, thank you.