Henin feels emotion of comeback win

An emotional Justine Henin today described her French Open comeback as "a beautiful moment" after coming through a tricky first-round match against Tsvetana Pironkova.

Playing at Roland Garros for the first time since completing a hat-trick of singles title wins in 2007, the four-time champion showed only glimpses of her scintillating best on Philippe Chatrier Court and struggled on serve throughout.

But she did enough to seal a 6-4 6-3 victory in one hour 29 minutes and set up a second-round meeting with Klara Zakopalova.

Former world number one Henin, who decided to end her 16-month retirement in September last year, was technically on a 21-match winning streak at Roland Garros, having not lost there since 2004.

The Belgian 22nd seed had also won her last 35 sets in the tournament, a statistic she had more than a little difficulty extending to 37 today.

"I did not have the opportunity to practise on centre court before this morning, so I came in at 9.45am," said the 27-year-old.

"Even if I know this court - I've experienced beautiful things here - but I walked on this court and it was unknown to me.

"Then, when I started playing, many things came back to my memory, and I had this beautiful feeling of happiness, of being here again.

"I thought I would never experience that again in my life.

"That's probably the tennis court on which I had the most beautiful emotions in my life, so it has a special place in my heart, and that will never change. That's why it was emotional today."

Henin's morning start meant the early stages of her match were witnessed by a handful of spectators.

"People came little by little," she said.

"And, at the end of the match, I really enjoyed the standing ovation from the crowd.

"It was extraordinary. It was a beautiful moment for me."

There was also plenty of emotion on Suzanne Lenglen Court, which witnessed undoubtedly the biggest upset of the tournament so far.

Dinara Safina, runner-up for the last two years and the former world number one, fell apart against 39-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm to lose 3-6 6-4 7-5 in an extraordinary two hour 34 minute saga.

Multiple grand slam semi-finalist Date-Krumm, who had been retired for 12 years before returning to the circuit two years ago, burst into tears after recording what was her first win in a major for 14 years.

The Japanese veteran's success was all the more remarkable as she was struggling with a calf injury throughout.

Safina was the only seed toppled by mid-afternoon in the women's draw.

Among those safely though were Shahar Peer (18), who beat Nuria Llagostera Vives 6-1 6-4, Vera Zvonareva (21), who saw off Alberta Brianti 6-3 6-1, Daniela Hantuchova (23) who crushed Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-1 6-1, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (29), who cruised past Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2.

Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot