Henin feels emotion of comeback win
Tuesday 25 May 2010
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.
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin