Henin granted Indian Wells wildcard

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The Independent Online

Australian Open finalist and former world number one Justine Henin has been granted a wildcard place in next month's BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells.

The Belgian, who won the event in 2004, retired from tennis in May 2008 but has followed compatriot Kim Clijsters in making a successful playing return and beat fifth seed Elena Dementieva and Yanina Wickmayer in Melbourne before losing to Serena Williams in the final.

She joins fellow former champions Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Vera Zvonareva and two-time winners Clijsters and Daniela Hantuchova in the draw for the March 8-21 event in California.

Henin told the tournament's official website, bnpparibasopen.org: "I am very happy that the BNP Paribas Open has granted me a wildcard, and I look forward to returning to Indian Wells.

"I am excited to be back on Tour, and hope to continue the success I have had thus far in 2010. The fan support has been incredible, and I hope that I am able to claim my first title of the season at the BNP Paribas Open in March."

Tournament director Steve Simon added: "Not only is the BNP Paribas Open excited to have Justine in the field, but I'm certain our fans are going to be thrilled to have the opportunity to see such a phenomenal player compete again at our tournament.

"Adding a former champion, and one of the best women's players of all time, means that fans will again get to witness some of the finest tennis in the world."